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Santa Claus arrived at the Center for Disability Services during an unexpectedly heavy snowfall on December 13, which made his annual visit to the site even more festive. Santa and elves from the Albany Police Athletic League and the Albany Police Department surprised a lobby full of CloverPatch Preschool and Langan School students and a few adult program participants. Santa and his helpers handed out plush animals as gifts.

“These young people at the Center have various challenges they face every day of their lives,” said PAL Executive Director Lenny Ricchiuti. “This is one of those days where we help them get up looking forward to something.” Ricchiuti added that the stop at the Center is a 28 year tradition.

For Albany’s new Chief of Police, Eric Hawkins, it was his first holiday visit to the Center and he interacted with students and chatted with staff members and Center administrators.

“This is part of the community policing effort we have in the Albany Police Department. You give back to the community in a lot of different ways,” explained Hawkins with a smile.

The PAL entourage also delivered donated gifts to be distributed to students and families who are in need.

The Albanettes and Troubadours from Albany High School led the entire room in song and they were joined by the APD Command Choir, comprised of Chief Hawkins and top officers from the department. Ricchiuti told the crowd the Center is the only place the Command Choir performs! Others who added to the magical fun included the Phillips’ Hardware moose, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Minnie and Mickey Mouse and Roary the Lion, the Langan School mascot.