Thousands attend Children's Christmas Party of Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It's a Positively Jax event that left 5,300 local families with new toys this Christmas.

The Children's Christmas Party of Jacksonville on Saturday filled the Prime Osborn Convention Center with toys for those who might otherwise not get them. News4Jax is a proud sponsor of the event.

Three rows full of thousands of toys to choose from and hundreds of bikes led to nothing but smiling faces of both children and parents. 600 bikes or wagons were randomly given out.

Many families know the three toys each child received will make for a great Christmas.

"I think it's a great environment. I don't even know what to say besides that. It's really a joy to bring my kids out here," Michael McWhite said.

"It means everything. The people and the organizations that do this, it really helps community," Chad Rowell said.

The smiles on everyone's faces as they leave are the reason that parents, like Jami Talbot, got in line Friday around 6 p.m. and had no problem waiting in line overnight to make sure they got inside early for their kids to get toys.

"My boys played football in till about 2 in the morning in the parking lot. My girls were playing with other kids they never met before, so they had a lot of fun," Jami Talbot said.

"My kids also take it as the spirit of going camping. We come down here and put up tents. It's a blessing. It's a blessing," Loretta Brightwell said.

It's not just the parents and kids who have a great time. Hundreds of volunteers spend most of the morning helping kids pick out the perfect toy. Without those volunteers and the support of the community, making this event bigger and better each year wouldn't be possible.

"A lot of hard work from the volunteers to put the convention center together, the decorations, unpacking the toys. Now this is the fun part when the kids come in and you see their eyes got all big when they see the decorations and Santa Claus," Diane Halverson, executive director of the Children's Christmas Party of Jacksonville said.

Any left over toys will be donated to Toys for Tots.