Unsung heroes of Isla de la Piedra, Mazatlan

The Santa Run and Chicken Drive on Isla de la Piedra

By Jed Vaughn

Every year, a group of Stone Island locals, expats and snowbirds continue a tradition of giving on Isla de la Piedra. Known as the “Santa Run”, it consists of a makeshift cart converted into Santa’s sleigh with Santa aboard and is pulled by a moto around the Isla and Colonia on the small island peninsula. The charitable endeavor has been going on for over 10 years and the very first one was a walking event. It’s primarily spearheaded Don Woods, (Santa), Dallas and Rocio Autrey, (moto driver and Santa’s helper), and expats on the Isla who have helped and participated since year one. This is a gesture of appreciation and an effort to give something back to the community at a time when the contrast of prosperity and poverty come face to face.

It’s a hot morning for Don Woods, who wears the furry suit & hat, but he’s happy to play the role each holiday season. The youngsters really look forward to seeing the Jolly man in red and white.

The first time I witnessed this, it was quite an experience. Having grown up with snowy winters, it’s a bit of a double-take the first time you see Santa on an ocean beach in 80-degree weather. And of course, it’s great to see the happy and smiling faces of all the children here on the Isla.

Prior to the Santa run on December 23rd, Rocio’s annual chicken drive also distributes chickens and vegetables to provide a Christmas dinner for scores of people in the Colonia who may otherwise not get a great meal on Christmas day. It’s the 5th year of the drive. The first year they gave out 18 chickens and sides, and this year, donations raised were enough to provide 160 dinners. They included a full chicken, 1 kilo each of rice, beans, carrots, potatoes, flour, and a liter of cooking oil. In the beginning, the dinners were delivered. But once it grew to 80 dinners a couple of years back, tickets were handed out and people come to a small park in the Colonia and pick up the meal. There is also a table there with donated clothing that continues to grow each year.

Donations are gathered in the month or so leading up to both events event and several hundred gift packages are arranged for the Santa Run with candy and treats for all the children on the Isla. The sleigh is pulled through the streets and around the entire Colonia where the local folks live, many in moderate to severe poverty. The event is truly a highlight of the season for scores of young children and the looks on the faces of them and the parents is heartwarming and brings joy to those who participate in the event while helping. Volunteers parade around behind the sleigh throughout the run and it concludes on the beach of Isla de la Piedra where the final remnants of packaged treats are dispersed to unsuspecting children on the beach there for holiday or just hanging out.

So… here’s a BIG SHOUTOUT out to Don, Dallas, Rocio, and all the rest who volunteer, donate, and help with the big job of packaging and distributing the meals and treats throughout the Santa Run and chicken dinner giving efforts. It’s people like you who truly make a real difference in the holiday season for so many! Salute!

We invite you to a day of celebration of Stone Island, “Isla Fiesta” on Saturday, February 16, 2019, 2:00 pm– 6:00 pm at Restaurant Cerro los Chivos. This is a fundraiser for the Special Needs Students on the Island. There is an extremely large percentage of students in the school on the Island with a variety of special needs, yet a major lack of funding to adequately provide for their needs. We hope to change that! Tickets will be available for purchase to the event for 200 pesos which includes a shrimp or cheese quesadilla plate. In addition, we will have live music, a super fun auction with donated items, and a 50/50 draw. Not to mention, Margaritas and Pina Coladas for purchase! All of the proceeds will go directly to the needs of these extremely special children.
How can you help? Bring something unique from home, that maybe you made, or that represents your home area to donate to our auction (send a message here and let us know what you are bringing). Buy a ticket to Isla Fiesta! Tickets are available on Stone Island at Restaurant Cerro los Chivos or PM Dallas Autery Y Rocio Heredia. If you would like, just click “GOING” on this event page and we will be happy hold your ticket at the door. You can also help by sharing and inviting to this event, make sure all your friends are coming! Don’t miss the fun and the Stone Island experience! The kids are counting on you!

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The Mazatlan Post Team