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Santa Clause leads a pack of children attending the 2014 Skate with Santa event at the Ice and Events Center. This year’s event is free, and all children who attend will receive a gift from Santa.

Christmas events in the Laramie area are winding down this weekend, but Santa still has one more chance to burn off a little stress before he hunkers down in the North Pole next week under deadline pressure.

Skate with Santa is scheduled for 4-7 p.m. Saturday at the Laramie Ice & Event Center, 3510 Garfield St. The event is free and includes refreshments and a small gift for children.

Arena Manager Devin Stalder said Skate with Santa has been a Laramie Christmas tradition for more than a decade, but it became a free event several years ago as a way to allow more families to enjoy it.

“We decided it would be a cooler event if we made it completely free,” he said. “This will be the third year in a row that it’s a completely free event for the community.”

Santa will spend some of his time showing off his moves on the ice, but he will also hang out in the lobby to visit and take pictures with those who don’t want to ice skate.

“He is an excellent skater,” Stalder said.

There will be free hot drinks and cookies, and any child that visits Santa will receive a small gift.

Organizers are expecting more than 600 skaters to take part, but they’ll be ready for the crowds.

“We have a bunch of back-up skates that we keep just for this event, that are only pulled out once a year,” Stalder said. “We pull them out so we have double the skates, double the helmets, so it turns out to be a pretty cool event.”

Donations will be accepted at Skate with Santa, which will be put into the Laramie Parks and Recreation Department’s scholarship fund to support families that need assistance paying for recreation activities, such as swimming lessons.

“It’s a completely free event, but we are encouraging the donations, if you have the means,” he said.

Stalder said he’s most looking forward to the sense of community that develops at Skate with Santa as families from across Laramie gather in one place.

“We see so much support from the community through the year, and it’s our way of saying thank you,” he said.

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