…Popcorn, that is.
Then again, when you’ve been doing something for 18 years, you can’t very well stop.
Just ask Jack. Or, Santa Jack, as he is called in the months of November and December. It makes talking to nine different Santa’s, much easier.
When Jack moved onto Georgetown Rd, in 1999, he noticed something, the first Christmas in the new house: the number of cars driving by, slowing down to look at Christmas lights.
He also noticed a neighbor, dressed in a Santa suit.
“The neighborhood was still new, at that time. A neighbor would put on his Santa suit. His wife was a baker. They delivered fresh baked cookies to all the new neighbors. That got me thinking.”
Santa Jack put two ideas together. First, he went out and bought a Santa suit and some candy. Then, he stood in his driveway. At first, people didn’t know what to think. So, he just waved.
That all changed, when Santa Paul joined him, two years later.
Jack says “Santa Paul knew how to get people to stop.” And, that was all it took.
By Christmas Eve that year, Jack was celebrating the evening with his family, in his own house. His son looked out the window, and saw cars stopping.
Jack put on his Santa suit, and went outside.
And, as the saying goes, the rest is history.
By the third year, two more Santa’s joined, to hand out even more candy.
That’s how it stayed, for a few years. Five Santa Clauses, standing in their yards, handing out candy. No shelter from the weather. Only a charcoal grill to stand by, to keep warm.
That is, until Santa Pete built a shack. It had a heater, and also opened up the opportunity to start handing out popcorn.
That is when things started to grow. Now, there are ten helpers, aside from the Santa’s.
Justin started with Georgetown Santa’s in 2003. Together, he and his dad, Santa Pete, built the current shack you will see driving by. This shack has a wood burning stove, and room for two popcorn makers and benches. It has also been through a few Christmas parades.
Pulling off an event like this, year after year, is not as easy as it sounds. It takes nine Santa Clauses, elves, wives, and more to make this happen.
The Georgetown Santa’s have a goal to be out for the four days before Christmas, including Christmas Eve.
Preparations for this event start well before December. A meeting is held in November, but donations of all kinds happen all throughout the year.
And, that is a very good thing. On a busy night, they will hand out over 2,000 bags of popcorn alone.
Last year, more than 6,000 people drove through. A temporary tent was also added, to handle to traffic flowing in both directions.
If last night was any indication of how things will go for the rest of the week, the group is set to easily surpass last year’s count.
How do they know? According to Justin, 90 lbs of popcorn was popped.
They also passed out 90 dog treats.
You read that right. Dog treats.
This is a recently new idea, thought up by the group. Dog treats are put into tiny stockings, along with a card for an animal rescue center, FluffyButts.
Jack says, “People bring their dogs. Seeing the smiles on the owners faces, knowing that we remember them, too. It’s great.”
Dogs and kids aren’t the only ones who this is for. Retirement homes bring their residents by. There have also been a lot of buses and stretch limos.
Even with all of this happening, the Georgetown Santa’s and their helpers get remembered. Each Christmas Eve, a group of carolers come by.
For Santa Jack, it all comes down to one thing: Fulfillment on people’s faces.
“Christmas was my favorite time of year, as kid. I remember the peanut brittle, lights, and songs… People just don’t enjoy it, like they used to. We are trying to make memories.”
More on Georgetown Santa’s can be found on their website, www.georgetownsantas.com. You can also visit their Facebook page.