There was excitement and anticipation for students at P.S. 106 in Brooklyn who were waiting for Santa's arrival.
But, for the adults in the room, the mood was bittersweet.
The gathering Wednesday marked the third anniversary of an attack that shook the city: the assassination of NYPD Detectives Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, who were fatally shot by a lone gunman while they sat in their patrol car in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
"I remember that day like if it was right now," said Cindy Ramos, Ramos's sister.
On Wednesday, family members were trying to turn that tragedy into something more positive. Through the Detective Rafael Ramos Foundation and help from the NYPD, they organized a toy giveaway five days before Christmas.
"I got a fidget [spinner] and a basketball super shooter," said seven-year-old student Aiden Bryan.
"He gave me another fidget spinner and this game," said six-year-old student John Cel.
Ramos's widow Maritza put it all together. "The reason I organized this event today is mainly because he enjoyed giving back to his community," Maritza Ramos said. "I figured, What better way to honor his memory than to give back?"
Detective Liu's parents, the families of other fallen officers, and Police Commissioner James O'Neill also attended. They joined a large group of police officers helping to lend a hand.
"To see how happy the kids were and how happy the cops were too," said O'Neill. "You know, there are a lot of good things going on in the city and I think it's important that we all got together today."
Ramos said she has handed out 500 toys at the school, but she said she is not done; she plans to hand out an additional 500 in the coming days.
Ramos said she hopes the giveaway helps forge better relationships between police officers and the community, all the while making the holidays a little brighter for the young kids.
"Even on a sad day like today, the kids bring a smile to my face," said Ramos.
A bit of joy in the face of enduing pain.