We didn’t expect to see Santa Claus walking along Dallas Road. But there he seemed to be – with a big, white beard and a furry, red hat. He said he was just visiting Victoria and “getting limbered up, preparing for the big night.”
The videographer and I smiled, appreciating how the man played along with how he looked and what he was wearing. But I wondered about the truth – why the Santa hat? The man laughed a jolly laugh and said “I’ve got dozens of them at The Pole of course. But I needed one out here.” So he said he stopped at a thrift shop in Crofton on his way down from Tofino and, “picked it up for 75 cents!”
The woman he was walking with – who was introduced as Mrs. Claus – said it was nice to see how the hat put a “sparkle” in the eyes of people passing by. The videographer started getting pictures for our story at the end of the News, of people smiling, doing double-takes, and proclaiming “Merry Christmas.”
I asked Mrs. Claus how long her partner had looked like Santa. She said the remarkable resemblance was relatively new because Dave’s beard only recently turned white. That’s when she admitted her name was Carol and that her husband had been wearing a Santa hat year-round for decades. Dave had also been invited to play Santa professionally dozens of times, but he always declined.
“I don’t do this for money,” he said. “This is about putting smiles on people’s faces.” After spending 43-years as a social worker, Dave knows there’s a lot of people who feel like there’s little to smile about. Especially recently. “I thought I’d better get people cheered up a little bit, with all the terrible things that happened in Paris.” So Dave is wearing a Santa hat weeks before the big day – with the hope of spreading cheer and inspiring others to do the same. “Do what’s in your heart,” he suggests. “If it’s Santa, be Santa. If it’s something else, throw your heart after it. It’ll work out. It’ll be really good.”
And then Dave turns to smile and wave at a frowning stranger passing by. A man who looks back when he thinks the camera is no longer pointing at him, and smiles the biggest of smiles back at Santa.
Adam Sawatsky is an anchor at CTV News Vancouver Island. On the weekend, he hosts ‘Eye on the Arts’ on CFAX 1070.