by Nikki Love
The mood was joyful and festive at the 4th Street Saloon on Saturday, Dec. 17, and not just because the Vikings’ historic comeback win against the Colts was playing in the background. Much to the delight of the little kids, a pair of Santa Clauses were on the scene to make their dreams come true.
The “Northside Santa Toy & Food Giveaway,” made possible through donations from patrons and community partnerships, transformed the bar into a family-friendly hot spot.
This year, the saloon had a White Santa Claus, Mike Oker, and a Black one, artist Charles Caldwell. Both of the Santas, with the assistance of volunteers, helped shop for toys.
“I love the giving part of Christmas ’cause it’s better to give than to receive,” said Caldwell. “I’m thankful for all the sponsors and support that went into this event. This will be an annual event at the 4th Street Saloon.
“The saloon gave away over $10,000 worth of toys to the kids but didn’t have enough,” continued Caldwell. “Hopefully, next year they can add more partners with support so this event can be what it is supposed to be—a wonderful experience in North Minneapolis. We do care about the kids and the seniors.”
Oker added, “Our Northside kids are the most important resource we have. We have to be the village. I love the fact that everyone came together to give the Northside kids toys, food and fun.”
Akir Norris, a young volunteer for the event, said it was important to come to help out because “We helped save people’s Christmases and came to be nice to others. Christmas means to have fun, be kind, and it is not about presents, it’s about family.”