INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department helped spread holiday cheer to hundreds of families on Saturday morning during its annual “Breakfast with Santa.”

The event, now in its 31st run, served more than 500 families. Families from across the Indianapolis area came to the IMPD Southeast District to get a picture with Santa and Mrs. Claus, grab a bite to eat, see a real-life reindeer, and take home a gift of each child’s choice.

“It’s awesome,” IMPD Public Relations Officer Andrew Sheler said. “There’s really no other way to describe it other than that it’s a very relaxed atmosphere. We get to be a little more relaxed than our normal job duties.”

Sheler said the event is a great chance to help local families during the holidays. He said he enjoys seeing the excitement among the kids who come to visit.

“To me it’s crazy,” Sheler smiled. “You can watch a lot of these kids walk out grinning from ear to ear. There’s sheer excitement a lot of time when they come in here and find the toy they’ve been dying to get or just like, ‘Man, I have to have this toy.’

“So we’re just very fortunate to have those opportunities to do that through sponsors and community partnerships.”

While the event has a nice impact on Indianapolis families, Sheler said it is also a nice opportunity for the officers themselves.

“This is a great way for our officers to engage with the community on a larger basis within a short period of time,” he said. “It’s a very positive environment. We’re getting to give back to the community that we love and serve.”

Sheeler said he is very thankful for all of the community support that made the event possible. Mayor Joe Hogsett and IMPD Chief Randal Taylor also attended the festivities.