Santa Claus helped Tehachapi kick off the holiday season by appearing at Jacobsen Middle School early Saturday morning to hear Christmas wishes after a free pancake and sausage breakfast was served to the community.

When it was all said and done, Santa reported giving away 260 candy canes to good little boys and girls this year at the 5th annual Breakfast with Santa.

Each year, local civic organizations join forces to celebrate the holiday season by serving a free breakfast to all who come. The event included fun games and free identification cards courtesy of the local Masons, as well as complimentary photographs with Santa Claus.

"We do this every year here," said Mason Don Stephens of the identification cards. "We have altogether about 800,000 that we do in California. It's helpful. If you lose your child in a shopping center or a park, you have that information to give to the authorities and they can start searching immediately."

Greeting the arriving guests was Sandy Chavez, Salvation Army coordinator, who served coffee and other beverages.

"This is actually a very wonderful collaboration of some of the amazing nonprofits here," Chavez said.

This year, Tehachapi High School's Interactive Club was on hand raffling a bevy of prizes including stuffed Christmas bears, giant candy canes and an assortment of toys.

"I brought six of my students here with me today, and we are having a lot of fun," said Amy Watkins, Interactive Club advisor.

After finishing their breakfasts, the children were invited to sit down and color the picture of Santa riding a bicycle in Tehachapi News' annual coloring contest, with the winners to be announced later in December.

Parents and children were also welcome to hang ornaments on a life-sized tree, which was also raffled later that morning.

"We were expecting 250 people, and they get three pancakes each, so that's a lot of pancakes," said Rotarian Linda Carhart, organizer of the annual breakfast. "The Rotary Club bought the food, and we also served over 800 sausages."

Of course one of the biggest highlights of the event for the children was the chance to sit on Santa's lap and have their picture taken for free and mailed to their home in time for Christmas.

"We always get a great turnout, and have a constant flow of people coming," Carhart said. "It really helps me get into the holiday spirit because it's all about giving."

Of all the hundreds of Christmas wishes Santa heard that day, some were very modest, and some not so modest.

"I asked for a puppy," said Tiny Miss Tehachapi Kylee Girvan, 5. Attending in her crown and sash, Kylee said this was her first year to come to the free breakfast, even though she was feeling a little under the weather.