Angels spread holiday cheer to kids at party

Angels spread holiday cheer to kids at party

ANAHEIM -- The Angels brought holiday cheer to more than 200 children at the eighth annual Angels Children's Holiday Party at Downtown Disney's ESPN Zone on Tuesday.

It was a fun party that featured Angels manager Mike Scioscia, Jered Weaver, Mark Trumbo and Hank Conger telling Christmas stories and signing autographs for children from local youth organizations such as Canyon Acres, LA County Probation, Eli Home, Latino Family Institute, Orangewood, Kristie's Foundation and several local Boys & Girls Clubs.

"It's the type of event where all of us take more away than we give," Scioscia said. "It's about giving to the community and letting kids experience what the whole Christmas season is all about. So in a small way, for us to do this, it helps to spread that throughout the community."

The event began with the Angels taking turns reading a holiday-themed book before the children had a chance to ask questions in a Q & A session with Scioscia and the players.

It was a light-hearted affair, as the children asked questions about the holidays, baseball and even Scioscia's thoughts on Carl Crawford signing with the Red Sox. But Scioscia took all their inquiries in stride and said it's his favorite part of the festivities.

"You get such a variety from kids asking questions about the team, our favorite Christmas memories and things like that," Scioscia said.

"It's a chance for the kids to relate to the players, and it's just fun to watch when they get that microphone in their hand."

After the Q & A session, the children were served a complimentary dinner and had a chance to get autographs from the players before being treated with a visit from Santa Claus.

And then came the exciting part, with the entire video game room opened up for the children, who had the chance to play free games for an hour. It was a new wrinkle to the event, which was held at Angel Stadium in the past.

"It's awesome for ESPN Zone to do this for the kids," Weaver said. "To be able to let them play games, get free food and get some gifts is great. Hopefully we can have it here for years to come."

The impact of the event wasn't lost on the participants, who saw how happy the children were playing games and interacting with the players.

"It's beyond amazing," said Kelleigh Strobel, the director of program services for Kristie's Foundation. "The Angels are an amazing organization, and they do so much outreach to the local community. For our kids it's very special, because they spend so much time in the hospital. So for them to feel well enough to come and run around and feel like a kid is huge."

The festivities concluded with the children selecting a gift that was donated as part of the Halo Holiday Photo toy drive and receiving pajamas as part of Magical Builders and their Jamma Jingles program.

Popular toys included items such as an Angels baseball set, an Angels basketball set and, of course, a stuffed Rally Monkey.

"It's a pleasure, it really is," Trumbo said of the event. "The kids have an outstanding time and the players have a great time, too. It's just a nice thing to do."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.