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Santa to sleep at Cloquet playground Friday

It won't be "visions of sugarplums" dancing through Santa's head this Friday night. Instead, it will be dreams of a playground for kids and enough food and toys so no one will have to go without this Christmas season.

It won't be "visions of sugarplums" dancing through Santa's head this Friday night. Instead, it will be dreams of a playground for kids and enough food and toys so no one will have to go without this Christmas season.

Loel Seboe, a paraprofessional at Churchill Elementary, plans to spend the entire night camped out at Churchill's playground - dressed in a Santa suit. His goal is to raise funds to help offset the cost of the school's recent playground project and to collect new unwrapped toys, food and blankets for the Salvation Army.

Considering the Friday night forecast calls for lows in the single digits, that's no small commitment.

"I just keep telling myself it's only 12 hours - from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m." he admitted with a grin.

Seboe said the idea for the fundraising stunt came to him one day when he looked out at the Churchill playground, so he randomly mentioned it to Principal David Wangen.

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"He probably thought I was nuts!" admitted Seboe.

A few weeks later, Seboe brought it up again and decided the reasons to do it outweighed all the reasons not to. For one, the Churchill P.I.E. group still has a significant way to go in paying for the school's recently installed playground, and he felt community donations would help take the group a step closer to its goal. Secondly, Seboe said donations for the holiday season are greatly needed at the Salvation Army, possibly due in part to the fact that there will be no food collection drive at the Bentleyville annual Christmas lighting disply, since that event will not take place this year.

Seboe plans to wear a Santa suit during Friday night's overnight campout, keep a fire going in a fire pit, and plans to put up a tent to help give him at least some protection from the elements. Beyond that, he's hoping to have lots of company in the form of folks coming to help support two worthwhile causes.

Seboe's overnight marathon kicks off a weekend of holiday festivities sponsored by the school's P.I.E. (Parents in Education) group.

Saturday morning, Dec. 6, will get under way with a P.I.E.-sponsored fundraiser from 8-10 a.m. at Applebee's, featuring a $5 pancake breakfast . The first-ever Churchill Community Holiday Expo is planned at Churchill Elementary, 515 Granite St. in Cloquet's Sunnyside neighborhood, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the school's gymnasium. The holiday shopping event is intended for all ages, with some 37 area vendors showcasing their products, arts and crafts. The event will also feature raffle drawings, visits with Santa and a bake sale.

All proceeds will help support the Churchill Community Playground and the P.I.E. group. Admission is free, though donations will be appreciated.

For more information, contact Karen Sabyan at 218-879-6962.

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