Without a doubt, Christmas is my favorite season. But I won’t lie — it’s been hard these last 23 years as I’ve been moved 700 miles away from my closest relatives. It became especially hard after my children were born. I’d always hoped to have my children close to their grandparents and cousins so that they could share all the magic together.
One Christmas, about a dozen years ago, that changed for me; and it changed for me because of one man: The Real Santa Claus. That’s right, The Real Santa Claus is alive and well and — for thirteen years — has visited Apache Mall in Rochester, MN to visit with our children in anticipation of Christmas.
How do I know this is The Real Santa Claus? There are just some things that moms know, and this is one of them. But to set your mind at ease, I know he’s real because I can see the love he has for our children and their parents. You see, Santa is more than a man dressed in a red suit; it’s a spirit of the season itself. And this man is The Real Santa Claus!
Every Christmas, I’d time our trip to see Santa just right so as to catch him as he was returning from his dinner break. The children were in a tizzy of excitement — they could see him coming and they knew what came next. Santa entered his “home”, picked up a set of jingle bells, and with no small amount of fanfare began to shake his bells and let out a loud “Ho-Ho-Ho” that could be heard throughout the mall. Santa was in the house!
This “production” on Santa’s part never ceased to give me — a grown woman — chills. Tears of overwhelming love and joy would leak from my eyes, and I’d quickly wipe them away before anyone saw. This was The Real Santa Claus!
Sadly, I learned after Christmas last year that Apache Mall was considering not offering him a contract for Christmas 2015. After thirteen years of dedicated service — and literally tens of thousands of devoted children and their parents — Apache Mall decided that they would seek a new Santa for the coming Christmas. Why? Because The Real Santa Claus has aged, as we all do, and his advanced age doesn’t allow for him to work the 12-hour days he once did. So, instead of working with the hours of our beloved Santa, they’ve decided to replace him for a newer model.
I’m taking a stand right now. I will not take my children to meet this new — FAKE — Santa!
On Sunday afternoon, I came across a GoFundMe page dedicated to The Real Santa Claus. It seems that I am not alone in my dedication to this wonderful man. A group of local residents have come together to relocate The Real Santa to a new location in Rochester but, to do so, they need money to pay him for his time…not to mention to feed the reindeer.
So this is my plea: If you were ever a child who believed — or if you’re just an adult who believes in the REAL Spirit of Christmas — take a moment to support our Santa. Bring The Real Santa Claus back to Rochester, MN! Our children need him, and we parents love him!
If you would like to donate to the wonderful cause of returning The Real Santa to Rochester, Minnesota, you can use the link below to visit the GoFundMe Page dedicated to this wonderful man!
In the meantime, take a look at a few photos of The Real Santa Claus with my children over the years!
C.H. Armstrong is a 23-year resident of Rochester and is the author of the upcoming Historical Fiction novel, The Edge of Nowhere. For information and a synopsis about this title, follow THIS LINK.