Miles of Smiles

It’s al­ways a ho-ho-ho happy time when the 7th Po­lice Dis­trict treats young people to a party.

Rich Si­mon, the com­munity re­la­tions of­ficer in the 7th Po­lice Dis­trict, has at­ten­ded and helped or­gan­ize the an­nu­al hol­i­day party for the Fox Chase Cham­pi­ons for nine years at Know­lton Man­sion.

The Fox Chase Cham­pi­ons, in ex­ist­ence for a quarter-cen­tury, is a non-profit, all-vo­lun­teer or­gan­iz­a­tion that of­fers bowl­ing, base­ball and in­door and out­door soc­cer to Phil­adelphia-area young people ages 3 to 23 with spe­cial needs, all at no cost to par­ti­cipants.

Dozens of area ath­letes last week cel­eb­rated the hol­i­days with Santa Claus, the Phil­lie Phanat­ic and the Bump­er T Caring Clowns.

“The day after the party, they can’t wait to come back the fol­low­ing year. They love the Phanat­ic, Santa, the clowns and the man­sion,” Si­mon said.

Capt. Joseph Zaffino, com­mand­er of the 7th dis­trict, has 

been in­volved with the party the last four years and en­joys the re­ac­tions of the young people.

“When Santa came in, they went crazy,” he said. “They look for­ward to this all year long, and so do we. It’s a great event.”

The 7th dis­trict has held a hol­i­day party for more than three dec­ades. The party had been held at the long-gone Bav­ari­an Club, Ar­thur’s Ca­ter­ing and Shriners Hos­pit­al for Chil­dren on Roosevelt Boulevard.

Today, Know­lton Man­sion and Con­roy Ca­ter­ing own­er Jack Con­roy open the man­sion doors for the fest­iv­it­ies. The din­ing room area was dec­or­ated with Christ­mas trees, wreaths and lights, and poin­set­tias served as the center­pieces on tables.

“It’s great,” Con­roy said. “The em­ploy­ees are in­to it. There’s nev­er a lack of vo­lun­teer­ism.”

The Cham­pi­ons had a great time, dress­ing up for the oc­ca­sion and en­joy­ing the sounds of a disc jockey. They danced to a Grease med­ley and did the Ma­car­ena, Elec­tric Slide and Mum­mers Strut.

Silly Reba cre­ated bal­loon art, and fel­low clowns Cook­ie, Rain­bow and Dr. I.M. Dandee — a “laf­fo­lo­gist” — en­ter­tained the crowd.There was a buf­fet lunch — high­lighted by Chick­ie’s & Pete’s crab fries — with cake, cook­ies and freshly popped pop­corn for dessert. TD Bank provided reindeer hats and col­or­ing books for all guests.

The Phanat­ic was a hit with all of the Phil­lies fans, who sat on the floor in front of Santa Claus as he dis­trib­uted presents. Some also re­ceived trophies for the re­cently com­pleted soc­cer sea­son.

The po­lice of­fi­cials and Cham­pi­ons found­ing pres­id­ent Matt Mc­Don­ald thanked the Con­roy staff for their hos­pit­al­ity. Mc­Don­ald and Con­roy know each oth­er from the neigh­bor­hood, and con­vin­cing the busi­ness­man to host the party and provide food was an easy sell.

“He’s very good with the kids,” Mc­Don­ald said.

The or­gan­izers also thanked the 15 or so loc­al busi­nesses that donated money and gifts to make the party as spe­cial as pos­sible.

The Cham­pi­ons staff be­lieve the or­gan­iz­a­tion’s activ­it­ies im­prove mo­tor skills, build self-es­teem, of­fer a sense of ac­com­plish­ment and pro­mote team­work.

“The kids are awe­some,” Mc­Don­ald said.

The party is a great way for the Cham­pi­ons to cel­eb­rate an­oth­er ban­ner sea­son. “It’s a great day,” Mc­Don­ald said. “It’s all about them hav­ing fun. They have a great time. They get presents. The Phanat­ic is won­der­ful. And the 7th dis­trict brings it all to­geth­er.” ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­

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