Fort Stewart’s Corkan Family Recreation Area hosted its first “Santa in the House” event Saturday, allowing children to sneak in some physical activity, burn energy and enjoy an afternoon of play time with Kris Kringle.
Santa, played by recreation programmer Bill Cooney, visited Stewart Lanes, the Corkan Family Fun Center and Cypress Sam’s Treehouse, a multi-level indoor structure with slides, tunnels and a soft-play area for toddlers. Families were able to take photos with Santa, and children told him what they wanted to Christmas.
“This was such a great surprise,” 90th Human Resource Company Sgt. Jerai Robins said. “We didn’t even know this was going on.”
Robins was leaving the bowling center with her two children, Jainelle, 5, and Jenesis, 2, when Santa walked toward the facility. The family returned to the lanes to get photos with the jolly old soul.
“I think this made their day,” Jerai Robins said. “I’m glad we got to see him.”
While at the bowling center, Santa bowled a game against the Kingpin, a character from the 3-D animated series “Bowlopolis,” which is designed to teach children about the sport. Bowling mechanic JR Barnard III played the Kingpin.
“The story follows a young boy who plays video games all day long and has to learn how to bowl to save his father from the evil Kingpin,” Corkan Family Recreation Center manager Roni Stevens said. “Kingpin gets in trouble all the time, so we have Santa here to set him straight before Christmas.”
The story is meant to encourage children to put down their video games and be more active, she said.
“People don’t realize that bowling, roller skating and wall climbing can be great ways to exercise,” Stevens said. “You can burn a lot of calories and have fun at the same time.”
Kingpin joined Santa at the Cypress Sam’s Treehouse and the Corkan Family Fun Center, which offers roller skating, laser tag and rock climbing.
Santa previously visited the bowling alley, but this was the first year children were able to play and spend the afternoon with him at the on-post facilities.
“Corkan Family Recreation Area offers affordable fun for ages zero to 99,” Stevens said. “It’s fun for the whole family.”
In January, they will begin a back-to-basics program to teach families the basics of bowling, roller skating and wall climbing.
“We want families to get even more interested in these activities,” she said. “If children understand the game, they will have a more enjoyable and quality fun with these activities.”
They also will host a top-of-the-wall climbing challenge at the Corkan Family Fun Center in January. The climbing structure participants will scale was built to simulate a mountain-side rock-climbing adventure, and all climbing equipment will be provided, Stevens said. Winners of the challenge will receive a free pass to the center for a year.
Since Hinesville doesn’t have a bowling alley, Stevens said they have an agreement with the surrounding communities to open the lanes and the golf course to the public. They are open from 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday through Monday. The Corkan Family Fun Center and Cypress Sam’s Treehouse are open only to military members and their families.