January 21, 2022

Police escort for Santa

Officers join St. Nick for coffee event in Cortland

Photos by Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Dressed in a Santa outifit, Francis Murray, 4, of Cortland, meets Kris Kringle Saturday during a Coffee with A Cop and Santa meet-up at Bru 64 in Cortland.

The sound of Christmas cheer filled Bru 64 on Saturday as a line of families waiting to see Santa extended out the door.

For Frankie Murray, 4, getting to see Santa was so exciting he decided to dress up like him, wearing a mini Santa costume.

“He won’t take it off,” his aunt Natasha Hyland said.

Hyland, of Cortland, brought Frankie and her son Jude Gateley, 3, to meet Santa.

“It’s nice because you don’t have to drive to Syracuse or Ithaca to see Santa,” Hyland said.

Like many of the other kids, the boys were delighted when a Cortland police officer handed them a small stuffed animal and candy cane.

It was all part of the police department’s second annual coffee with a cop and Santa. Coffee with a cop was started by the Hawthorne, Calif., police department in 2011 to build better relations between the agency and the residents it serves.

National Coffee with a Cop Day is Oct. 3, but Cortland Community Oriented Police Officer Jesse Abbott decided to have others throughout the year.

Eve Kuretich, 3, of Cortland, lets Santa in on her Christmas wishes Saturday during a Coffee with a Cop and Santa event at Bru 64 in Cortland.

Abbott said the turnout for the event was so big last year he had to order extra stuffed animals to hand out, getting 160 this year compared to 100 last year.

And while a lot of the focus was on Santa, the police officers weren’t forgotten.

“I’ve had a couple kids come up and thank us and I’ve gotten a couple of high-fives,” Officer Tyler Williams said.

Carrie Hall of Marathon brought her five children to the event, making sure she got all the officers in her photo with Santa.

“We have police officers in our family and we saw everyone getting photos with just Santa and decided the police should join in on our photo,” Hall said.

Hall said her son, Michael Hall Jr., wants to be a police officer when he gets older and even dresses up as one for Halloween.

Hall said the event got her family into the Christmas spirit.

“If they do it again, we’ll be back,” she said. “It just brings you holiday cheer.”

Laura Morak of Pitcher and her 12- year-old son, Kaleb Morak, stopped down to thank the police.

“This year we delivered doughnuts to them and the DPW (Department of Public Works) after being inspired by our church,” Morak said. “I just wanted to tell them what a great job they were doing.”

Morak, who works in the city Clerk’s Office, said seeing the officers smiling and interacting with the kids was great. “It brings out awareness that they’re visible and doing good things in the community,” Morak said.

As for how Santa takes his coffee, he likes it with just enough caffeine to make it through the holiday season — half coffee, half water and some cream.