OCEANSIDE — All eyes looked to the sky as Santa Claus parachuted into Mission Marketplace on Nov. 27. Once on the ground Santa gave a quick round of high fives. Then Santa, aka Rich Piccirilli, ducked into a nearby shop where he got out of his red suit and “the real Santa” popped out for a morning of photos and Christmas wishes with the children.
Piccirilli, of Just In Time Skydivers, has been playing skydiving Santa for 10 years. He said it’s the kids that keep him coming back every year. “I can hear the kids from 500 feet yelling and screaming,” Piccirilli said.
A crowd of about 3,000 was there for Santa’s arrival at noon. “They start to line up at 10:30,” Cynthia Gonzalez, marketing director for the NewMark Merrill Company, said.
In addition to time with Santa there is a winter wonderland of carnival rides, face painting, live music and a mound of snow to play in. “The snow is very popular,” Gonzalez said. “Some kids never get to go up to the snow.”
The NewMark Merrill Company hosts the annual event to kick off the holiday season and give back to the community. “There are a lot of other centers, this is the only one we parachute in,” Gonzalez said. “It’s awesome.”