Andre Dunn’s Christmas wishes read like a Best Buy inventory list.
“A 70-inch flat screen TV with 3D on it, and an iPhone,” the 9-year-old said, boasting a technological prowess that could put most adults to shame.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” he continued, “an iPhone S — which they’re still creating, but Santa can make it real quick.”
Hours before snow descended upon Colorado Springs, children rushed on Monday to log their final requests to Santa Claus, sitting on his lap while espousing wishes for dogs, dolls and dozens of video games.
Some lists were longer than others.
“I forgot to tell you one other thing — I also want one of Santa’s reindeer,” Andre said.
But Christmas Eve was a bittersweet time for Santa Claus at The Citadel mall. Since Nov. 16, he spent nearly 300 hours inside a makeshift North Pole, taking only Thanksgiving off.
Monster High dolls — a Barbie-gone-zombie doll made by Mattel — topped the wish lists of girls this year. Skylanders: Giants proved popular among boys, said Santa, who goes by the name of Joe Monaco when not ordering elves around the North Pole.
Some children wailed. One little girl wanted Santa to get rid of the monsters in her house.
“We’ll get an elf on the shelf to help you out,” Santa recalled saying.
There were difficult questions, too — moments when children asked to see a mother or father killed in war. When an answer came slow, Santa offered small bells with the explanation that each came as a personal gift from his reindeer.
“We give hope as Santa Claus — hope for something better, hope for a change, hope for something new,” he said.
“The whole thing is they get their time and you listen.”
Those 38 days in The Citadel ended with this: A trickling line of children, each wide-eyed at the sight of Santa Claus. Rarely did children wait more than 10 minutes on Monday to see him.
Trinity DeClue, 9, asked for a dog — “one that doesn’t poop in the house and one that doesn’t grow,” she elaborated.
Candace Necochea thought she was on the same page as Santa when it came to her sons’ wishes. She turned her head when one boy, Diego Necochea, 8, began talking.
“He wanted a unicorn,” she said, outside Santa’s lodge. “I’m screwed.”
But the best gifts came before some children visited the jolly old man from the North.
Less than a month ago, Diego’s father returned safely from Afghanistan with Fort Carson’s 4th Brigade Combat Team after nine months at war. He missed Thanksgiving, but will be home for Christmas.
And though denied a chance at Santa’s reindeer, Andre left with a candy cane and high hopes for a lucrative holiday. In a couple years, he’ll have to teach his brother the art of cajoling The Claus.
As Andre recited his lengthy wish list, his baby brother kept quiet.
A week old, he slept peacefully in his father’s arms while his mother, Amy Jenkins, rubbed his tiny belly.
“I got my present,” she said.
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