The first-ever Blue Santa Showdown was such a toy-raising success that you can look for this special Christmas-for-kids-inspired event to recur in the New Year we all anxiously await when the coronavirus year ends.
The special-titled softball tournament took place on Friday (Nov. 20) with 16 entrants participating. They did not throw in entry fees; instead, each player chipped in a toy to be donated to the great Blue Santa program run by HPD officers at Christmastime.
“We had 16 teams,” coordinator Frank Medina reported. “We got a huge amount of toys. I was blown away with the amount of toys that was brought out by every spectator and participant.
“We filled six Blue Santa bags completely full. We also filled a seven-foot table full of toys and another giant box full. Every person who participated was responsible for bringing a toy.”
Co-sponsored by Blue Santa and Assist the Officer, the tourney was held at Houston Sportsplex, 12631 South Main.
“A couple of people brought multiple toys. The amount of generosity blew me away. It surpassed all my expectations for the amount of toys we were to get for Blue Santa.”
The single-elimination tournament “ran smoothly,” Medina said.
Not only did Medina make a successful pitch for getting Blue Santa toys, but he also pitched effectively enough for the Swangin’ and Bangin’ team to win the first-ever tournament of its kind.
All told, the event drew teams that included ones from the DPS, HFD, Pasadena PD, Clear Lake Station, North Command, Eastside, South Central and Southeast.
“A good time was had by all,” Medina said with his usual good-natured laugh.
In the finals, Swangin’ and Bangin’ defeated District 68 from the Houston Fire Department, which also included members of the Rosenberg FD on its team. The third-place finisher was Southeast, captained by Officer Rene Mesa. The HFD team was led by HFD’s Andrew Vasquez.
The first three teams were awarded trophies. Players on the first-place team also received individual medals, Medina said.
The HPD Blue Santa program, organized in 1984, brings out the best in those with Christmas spirit the year round. Participants arrange monthly paycheck deductions that accumulate throughout the year. At Christmas, the money is used to purchase presents for the underprivileged children, aged 2-13, designated by the officers.
The program functions on the large amount of toys for all ages through purchases and donations. This year the Blue Santa Showdown greatly contributed to this great effort.
“We were extremely happy and blessed to have so many people come out and participate,” Medina said. “I thought it was awesome. We must do it again next year. If we can do that much good on a yearly basis, then why not?”