Idaho military families forced to spend Christmas apart last year, got a second chance to celebrate today at “The Christmas You Missed” at Roaring Springs.
300 military families from Gowen Field and Mountain Home Air Force Base that were deployed during Christmas, were invited to the water park for free entry and a chance to chat with Santa Claus.
Santa came decked out in full summer attire complete with a straw hat, flip flops and a red Hawaiian shirt .
Seven year old Rayla Johnson was happy to see Santa.
“I was like, ‘wow!’ I was like jumping up and like, ‘wow Santa’s here!’ I was like really excited,” Johnson said.
Rayla’s father is in the military and was in Greenland on Christmas, “close to Santa Claus”, she says.
Even though he’s been overseas four of the last few Christmases, things don’t get easier for Rayla and her older sister Katelyn.
“Yeah, I cried,” Rayla said. But Katelyn says they were able to use Facebook and Skype on Christmas to talk to dad. “It’s better than nothing!” Katelyn said.
That’s something the Lance Michaud and his family know all too well.
“I missed my youngest daughters first Christmas, I missed my boys birthday, I missed Thanksgiving,” Michaud said.
Michaud’s three young children were thrilled to see Santa at the water park.
“Oh yeah, heck yeah, they didn’t know until we got here that Santa was going to be here so they’re excited,” Michaud said.
And even though they celebrated in swimsuits, for these families it felt a whole lot like Christmas.