Will the real Sactown Santa please stand up?
Last year, I dressed up in a Santa suit and ran around Midtown drinking beers and visiting dogs at the pound for SN&R’s annual holiday guide, nicknaming myself “Sactown Santa.” Well, turns out I was stepping on some toes: This guy, who remains anonymous, is the real Sactown Santa. I was just an imposter, but he’s been doing it for nine years. And, instead of acting like a fool, he actually performs compassionate and caring acts for the Sacramento community: visiting hospitals, schools, neighborhoods and public events during the holiday season. What a jolly dude; leave some cookies out for him on the big night.
What is the most memorable gift a kid has asked for?
Being that I am young in age, I try to limit my communication with children and instead use the character from afar to get my greeting’s across. I must stay on the move. What the image of Santa does for children is amazing.
On Christmas Eve, I have a friend drive me around to all of the local hospital’s emergency rooms, and a few years ago, we made a visit to the Morse Avenue Kaiser. A young girl had been in a pretty bad accident and lost the lower end of her leg and was scheduled to have her leg amputated. I could see her through the window and waved at her. Well, one of the on-duty nurses snuck me into the back hallway through a side door so I could give her one of the stuffed animals I had in my bag of toys. After sharing a few words with her and telling her to be strong and trying to make it quick due to the security breach, I asked her what she was asking for Christmas from Santa, and she replied, “That doesn’t matter anymore, Santa, I just want my leg back.”
It gave me chills that I will never forget.
There wasn’t much to tell her except I know the doctors were going to do the best they could.
I still stay in communication with her and both of her parents to this day.
Tell me how you first got into dressing as Santa for the holidays.
Believe it or not, it was Halloween 2001, and I didn’t have a costume for the evening, and browsing through [The Sacramento Bee] classifieds came upon a custom Santa Claus costume ad, inquired to the seller and was Santa for Halloween that year.
I ended up purchasing from her an Easter Bunny outfit also—another story (laughs). Well, two months later, I made my rounds playing Santa for my nephew and niece, and all my friends and their children and loved the excitement and smiles that I was able to create being the fat man in the big red suit.
Then you earnedthe nickname“Sactown Santa”?
The following year, I then started a plan: to create a “Secret Santa of Sacramento” in which I would hit the town every year during the 12 days till Christmas, whether it be riding my scooter down K Street Mall or roaming the Folsom outlets with my dog wearing a pair of antlers and a blinking nose. After a few years, my friends started requesting a visit from Sactown Santa for their children, and it has snowballed from there.
Where do you usually work as Sactown Santa? How many years have you been doing it?
(Laughs.) Since this isn’t a job for me, I really don’t have a plan set in stone. I try to attend all outdoor events, parades, Kings games. The Raiders have done toy drives for me in the past, but the Raider fans have become sour due to their season, so I’m not heading out there this year. I’ve been to the Dallas Cowboys game on Thanksgiving a few times at Texas Stadium.
This will be my ninth year.
Who usually asks for more stuff, boys or girls?
It’s always the boys. (Laughs.)
Got any funnySanta stories?
Well, actually, last year I was stopped by Sacramento’s finest, the Sac [Police Department], while on my bicycle. They said because of the red light on the front of my bike, I could possibly be mistaken for one of them.
(Laughs.) How many policemen ride around on a bicycle dressed in a Santa outfit?
So I switched it to my white headlamp, and they let me go on my merry way. I laughed about it all the way home.
Have you ever seenBad Santa? Whatdid you think?
Yes, and I think it’s a good film for its kind.
What do you want for Christmas this year?
For our overseas wars to cease and our troops to come home safely.
What’s the best thing about being Santa?
Making people smile.
What’s the most challenging thing about being Santa?
Because of the inquisitive nature of children, keeping the mystery behind the fat man in the red suit.