OGDEN -- There was Holly and Ginger and Minty and Winter.
And a whole list of other elves dressed in bright red and green with swirly designs painted on their faces.
It may have been United Way of Northern Utah's annual Breakfast With Santa Saturday morning at Ogden's Union Station, but the elves stole the show by handing out books to children, collecting their letters to Santa and serving hot chocolate and juice.
Thirty volunteer students from Weber County came dressed to the hilt and with well-rehearsed elf lines to serve those in need as well as those who paid $15 apiece. Participants ate Malt-O-Meal cereal along with fruit, bacon and pancakes while they waited in their pajamas for a visit from the jolly old elf himself.
"I'm from California and I am 23," said Minty, giving her well-rehearsed line. "I work at the North Pole."
"She's young for an elf," said Nikki Lovell, a grant writer for United Way and an organizer of the event.
"Most of our elves are 600 or 700."
"I love being an elf because I love helping Santa," said Winter, whose age is 367.
"I love being around children and knowing that Christmas is coming. I help with the reindeer."
Ginger, whose pointy ears pop out from underneath her hair, said she enjoys making gingerbread and gingerbread houses.
"I've been doing that because my Mom did it," said the 160-year-old. "It's kind of a family thing. I get to eat the frosting and the candy."
Holly said she spends her days in the most wonderful peppermint-smelling factory in the world.
"I graduated from candy- striping school," she said. "Now I make candy canes."
Lovell said having the elves memorize their stories helps create a certain atmosphere for hundreds of children who attend the event every year.
"It's all part of the magic," she said.
And she's hoping that magic transfers to the books children receive from the elves after hearing "The Christmas Tree Express" story, promoting United Way's goal of literacy. The books are a gift from Volunteers of America.
"Too often today, reading isn't fun, and it should always be fun," she said. "Our emphasis at United Way is that everyone read and they enjoy reading by the third grade. It's a small way to make reading fun."
And this year, the fun included a check to United Way for $26,679.79, presented from the Tremonton Malt-O-Meal plant that serves as the lead sponsor of the event every year.
The money was raised in a special annual cereal sale and during the United Way campaign among employees.
"They have only a little over 200 employees that raise that kind of money," Lovell said of the company.
But the activity was more about letting children be themselves for an hour than it was about publicizing donations.
Reed Richards, who heads Ogden United, an effort to improve education in Ogden, said the event is one of his favorite of the year.
"I like how you have all the kids together and they feed off each other and it becomes pandemonium," he said. "Plus, you find out what they want for Christmas."
Richards said his grandchildren often ask him to help them write their letters to Santa at the event.
Richards' daughter, Kristin Millard, said she wouldn't miss Breakfast With Santa.
"My little boy asks in January when Santa is coming to the train station," she says, pointing out how long her son looks forward to the event every year.