Judy Rose's Christmas Page

Santa Claus comes to Nanty Glo

December 24, 2008

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 pre-Christmas pilgrimage.

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.

Click above to see Santa's Christmas greeting.


Webmaster's 2008 Christmas letter
Valley video page updated

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Complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonal articles

Today's chuckle

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.

— Jon Kennedy

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