They came in the hundreds for the first ever Christmas party thrown for the whole town. Ten weeks have passed since Hurricane Ike and it is now the holiday season in Bridge City. The community took a break from rebuilding Saturday for a gathering complete with Santa, an early Christmas dinner, and of course artificial snow.

The Christmas event was put on by the Church of Christ Disaster Response Team, a national organization based in Melbourne, Fl. They arrived two days after Hurricane Ike made landfall, Sept. 13, and have provided for hurricane affected residents ever since. They are joined by local Church of Christ volunteers and others from across the nation.

Santa arrived for a long line of excited children waiting at the Bridge City-Orangefield Community Center. He was escorted by Bridge City Mayor Kirk Roccaforte. Every child was given a gift after visiting with Santa.

Arthur Ridley, 6, unwrapped one of his favorite toys, a set of Hot Wheel cars. “This is really wonderful,” said his mother Vanessa Ridley.

Although it was a damp and muggy 70 degrees in Bridge City, kids still tumbled and rolled in snow – artificial foam – not quite the surprise and rare wintery dusting the area received Dec. 7. The children seemed to have just as much fun.

Residents dined on baked glazed ham with all the fixings including a table of fresh baked deserts. Volunteers busily dished up Christmas platters and kept the lines moving.

The Church of Christ Disaster Response Team travels to any disaster stricken area in the U.S. They plan to stay in Bridge City as long as they are needed which may still be awhile.