Visit with Santa, goats on Pleasant Unity farm to raise money for groups benefiting kids

Dec. 2—Santa Claus will be greeting two types of kids this weekend at a holiday charity event in Pleasant Unity — the kind with shoes and the kind with hooves.

Lou and Emily Surace are inviting local families and children to their farm to meet the couple's baby goats and to visit with Santa as he makes his plans for Christmas gift deliveries.

The event is set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Surace Livestock, 4682 Route 981.

It's the third year for the rustic holiday celebration, which was prompted by covid restrictions. In the early stages of the pandemic, concerns about large gatherings caused cancellation of Santa's appearances at plenty public venues.

"We wanted children to still have the opportunity to see Santa," said Emily Surace. "We thought, with the baby goats, it gave a unique experience to Christmas. Christmas has always been a special time for both our families."

The Suraces are raising about 60 Boer goats, including kids born last month, and will have some of them available for children to pet.

Children will receive a farm-themed ornament crafted by Emily Surace. Attendance at the event has grown each year, so she's prepared more than 60 ornaments. Her mother will be baking some cookies, and there will be hot chocolate to sip.

"The people who have come have been excited and want to come back next year," she said. "I think it will continue to grow."

Those attending are asked to make a donation to local charities.

"There is a suggested donation of $20, but we know times are tough now," said Emily Surace. "Whatever people are able to give will help."

She's starting out with $150 donated by people who won't be able to attend, but still wanted to show their support.

Proceeds from this year's event will be split between a toy drive run by the Ligonier Lodge No. 331 Free & Accepted Masons and Angels in the Infield — an adaptive baseball organization for children with special needs, who are in need of jerseys for their games at Seton Hill University in Greensburg

The baseball group's cause is one that means much to Surace, who is an early intervention school social worker with the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit. Her husband is an academic adviser and adjunct professor with Westmoreland County Community College near Youngwood.

"Farming is our second full-time job, 365 days a year," she said. "Agriculture is a passion we both have, both having been involved in 4-H since we were 8 years old."

Many of the goats the couple raise end up being shown by young 4-H members at fairs and other events along the East Coast. They sell others for breeding and also have two Southdown lambs, Thelma and Louise.

"We have been blessed and thankful for all of the opportunities we have been given, and hosting this event is just one way to spread holiday cheer and give to those in need," said Emily Surace.

Photo sessions with a professional photographer are optional, at a cost of $50, and can be scheduled at

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff by email at or via Twitter .