We can consider Santa's December 14 visit
to Al's Pizza in Nanty Glo as one of those acts of kindness
which, except for a thank you from the person who organized
such a happening, often goes unnoticed. Well, not this year.
Since I was on the scene for Santa's fifth visit to Nanty
Glo (Santa has been coming to Al's since Al Farabaugh's
daughter Tara was 5 years old.) I took the opportunity to
ask Santa a few questions about why he makes this yearly
The Santa who came to Al's that Sunday wasn't
the real Santa of course. As we all know, this time of year,
the real Santa is busy at the North Pole. He and his elves
are checking his list of who was naughty or nice, packing
his sack with toys, and making sure his sleigh and reindeer
are sky-worthy and in tip-top condition for his around-the-world
trip on Christmas eve.
As it turned out, "Santa," who wishes his
name kept secret, was once a coal miner employed by Barnes
and Tucker Coal Company in Barnesboro. However, when the
mining industry died out he was forced to find employment
elsewhere and for the past 13 years has been a Corrections
Officer at one of Pennsylvania's State Correctional Institutions.
He's a native of what is now known as Northern Cambria,
lived for a while in Twin Rocks and now resides in Loretto,
having relocated there last April. Santa's father died in
1966, leaving a widow to raise seven children, of which
Santa was next to youngest.
Santa has been playing "Santa" free of charge
for 30 years and although he says nursing homes for the
elderly are his favorite places to visit, visiting them
makes him sad. When asked why he performs this act of kindness
year after year, he replied: "I do it because no one ever
played Santa Claus for me." He's been known to check out
back yards and if there are small children's toys evident,
maybe...just maybe those lucky youngsters will get a surprise
visit from St. Nick on Christmas Eve. Santa says,"A lot
of time, kids don't know the true meaning of Christmas,
and as a Christian, I try to help them learn the true meaning."
Santa says he has two red and white suits;
one to wear, and a spare for "just in case." He says in
all his years of playing Santa, no one has ever vomited
on him or had a potty accident while sitting on his lap.
And girls are no more afraid of him than boys. "It's about
even," he says. Around the beginning of November Santa starts
practicing the familiar "Ho-Ho-Ho" in the privacy of his
pickup truck while driving to and from work. "It takes about
a month to get it down pat," he says.
Playing Santa does have it's unusual moments.
Santa said that one year when he was dressed in his Santa
costume complete with beard and wig, he came across a stranded
car which, along with a husband and wife, contained several
small youngsters. Santa offered them a ride home, and needless
to say "those kids were speechless all the way home." Santa
is so convincing, not to mention covert, in his role as
Santa, that one acquaintance, whose home he once visited,
didn't discover his true identity for 10 years. "I always
wondered who that was," his friend said,"It was YOU!"
In closing, I asked Santa if he had any message
for the people of Home Page Country and he said: "You better
be nice, and you better be good, 'cause Santa knows. And...he's
boarding his sleigh and on the way. Ho-Ho-Ho!"
A video slide show of Santa's December 14
visit can be seen here.
Oh look, yet another Christmas TV special! How touching to have the
meaning of Christmas brought to us by cola, fast food, and beer....
Who'd have ever guessed that product consumption, popular entertainment,
and spirituality would mix so harmoniously?
Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes
Thought for today
Though I participate very little in the commercial side of Christmas,
I don't agree with those who decry or dismiss it. That side, too, is
the foundation on which countless Christmas carols, many of them explicit
expressions of the Christmas Gospel of God's birth into a fallen world,
are sung, played, and heard. Jesus said "he who is not against
us is for us" (Mark 9:40), and this keeping of Christmas, though
often twisted and off the mark, remains just such a beacon still shining
in dark places.
The Nanty Glo Home Page and all its departments
are for and by the whole Blacklick Valley community. Your feedback and written
or artistic contributions, also notification about access problems, are welcomed.
Click here to reply.