In a sea of winter jackets, hoodies and scarfs, Khelben Swetlikoff was a standout, the epitome of a sharp-dressed man in his top hat, formal jacket and vest with white gloves and a walking stick.
At the Krause Berry farm Santa pancake breakfast and fundraiser on Sunday, the 12-year-old from Willoughby was easily the best-dressed among the kids lining up to have their photos taken.
He kept his gloves on to eat his pancakes, which he preferred plain, without the berries that might pose a stain risk.
With him was mom, Qetrina Swetlikoff, who was wearing a stylish red hat with a formal outfit of her own for the occasion.
Younger brothers Dante and Viktor, and dad Steve, were more informal.
“I don’t feel that people dress up enough,” said Qetrina.
“When I go to church, I wear a hat. I have a fancy hat.”
She said the family has always enjoyed dressing up for holiday pictures with Santa.
“We used to go to the golf course in Mission [for Santa pictures] and it always felt formal, so we dressed up,” she explained.
“But this year they cancelled it.”
Her son picked out his outfit by himself.
The walking stick was a gift from a neighbour after Khelben complemented the man on the antique item and asked if he could have it to finish off his ensemble.
He said his outfit was “sort of” inspired by Dickens-era costumes.
“I always liked the idea of a tail suit, because it’s cool,” he said.
For Khelben, there are other, practical, benefits to being the best-dressed kid in line, his mother explained.
She described her son as a high-functioning autistic child who can find crowds and noise stressful, and it can lead to a meltdown if he doesn’t want to go out in public.
Picking out formal wear for a formal occasion also teaches her son about what is appropriate garb in given situations by giving him clear guidelines.
“So he knows when he goes to a specific place, he knows how to dress.”
Khelben sailed through the morning event, unfazed by all the cheerful chaos.
READ MORE: VIDEO: Hundreds line up at Langley farm for pancakes and a chance to help
It was the 15th year running that Alf and Sandee Krause have hosted a breakfast with Santa to raise funds towards finding a cure for breast cancer.
Held in memory of Liz Krause, Alf’s late wife, who passed away in the late 1990s of breast cancer, the event raised $4,136 this year, down slightly from the previous year when the weather was better.
More photos of the event can be viewed online.