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Every year for the past
12 years or so, Santa Claus visits the City of Murrieta. But he doesn't
just visit the mall or the City Center, Santa climbs aboard a city
sleigh and visits EVERY neighborhood in town - nearly 400 stops. When
you're driving clients around town they invariably ask - "What's with
all the big stars painted on the streets"? Well, that's where Santa
One of our first City
Councilors Jack van Haaster started the tradition years ago. Jack would
get all dressed up and ride around the town, which numbered about
20,000 people then, and hand out candy canes and collect canned goods
and toys for the needy. The first couple years he just rode around for
a couple nights and was done. But demand grew - both for Santa visits
and for food for the pantries - so the Santa run grew from 2 nights to
4 nights to a week. Finally about 10 years ago, Jack decided to share
the fun and he recruited more Santa's as the city grew to 60,000, then
80,000 and finally hitting 100,000+ a couple years back. There were
three or four of us that volunteered and we'd be traveling 3 or 4
When even that got out
of hand, the City expanded the numbers of sleighs to 2, then 3. This
year there were 4 sleighs out every night for 2 weeks. Each sleigh has
a Santa, a half-dozen carolers, a Frosty and a Rudolf character and a
support staff to hand out the thousands of candy canes and collect the
truckloads of food and toys. It is a spectacular and successful program
and a very special reminder to our citizens of what our small town used
to be like.
Even in a year like this
one, during which our city became one of the foreclosure capitols of
the country, the holiday spirit shines through the little faces that
greet us at every stop. It's impossible to maintain a bah-humbug
attitude when you get smothered with hugs and kisses by these wonderful
little people who believe with all their hearts. So many of the little
ones look at you with these HUGE eyes and you ARE Santa for them - life
is simple and wonderful for them at that moment. And it is for me
This year Wii was the #1
requested item, joining previous years grabbers from iPods to
Playstations, dolls, bikes & ponies. Of course there's always
one or two who get old Santa all misty when all they want is their
Daddy home from Iraq or for their family to be all together.
The City is kind enough
to let me borrow the suit a few days so I can do some private Santa
work as well. One stop on my list is the home where my Aunt
stays. She is 95 years young and sharp as a tack but because of her
arthritis she can't live alone anymore, especially since the town she
lived in is at 9,000' elevation and has 20' of snow right now. So she
stays down here close to us in a private managed care home with four
other delightful little ladies of similar vintage. The look on their
faces when Santa comes walking in is as priceless as it is with the
little ones. In their own way, these folks believe too and even though
some may not remember what they had for lunch, they still remember
Christmas when they were little ones. These old gals haven't sat on
Santa's lap for 70 or 80 years but they love to tell me how
So in this way I get to
be the first Santa for a lot of little ones and I have also been the
last Santa for some others. Three years ago was my Mom's last Christmas
and I'll forever cherish the picture of her on my lap beaming at 'her'
Santa. I've had relatives come up months after thanking me for a last
precious memory and we have a little cry and all's right with the world
This year was an extra
special one for me. In addition to my Aunt Irene
I also got to be Santa
for my Granddaughter (step) McKena (who had no idea Santa was Grandpa Gene).
My 6 week old Grandson
And my 6 DAY old
Grandson Hudson. What a rush.
I hope you all have an opportunity to spend some time this
season with someone very young and someone very old. It's a
blessing beyond any gift just to share their wonder at life.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.