23.12.05

The Santa On Sixth Street

My grandfather played Santa Claus for more than twenty years, purely, I liked to believe, out of the goodness of his heart. His annual ritual was completely a volunteer effort and a solo undertaking...

...Then the neighborhood got older, and those kids who might have had fond memories of the Santa on Sixth Street grew up and moved away, and my grandfather found himself being increasingly rejected by subsequent generations. Every year there were still a few visitors, but it became more discouraging each December, and for years local teenagers had been spreading the rumor that my grandfather was a pervert...

...My grandfather had a fierce and constantly evolving vision of his Santa Shack (he called it the "Castle"; it was always "Santa's Castle" to him) that was perched atop this hill. He also imagined scores of local children, walking hand-in-hand with their parents and winding their way up the long path --"Candy Cane Lane"-- to visit Santa Claus.

Loudspeakers mounted on the roof of the shack blasted Christmas carols out over the neighborhood. It was this hill (and this music) that eventually turned much of the neighborhood against my grandfather, and one year the city council actually deliberated shutting him down. A young and smirking local newspaper reporter took my grandfather's side --"Santa Claus vs. Joyless City Council"-- and the story was picked up by news services and television stations all over the state...

The Santa On Sixth Street

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