Soul Santa arrives by fire truck to visit two community centers

“Where were you?” may be a question many Santas are hearing this year. “We failed to sit on your lap and tell you what we wanted. “

Across the country, as the pandemic raged and vaccines were not yet available – and certainly not for children – the close and whispered wishes of many tike were put on hold in favor of a “letter of request” .

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The apparitions of inducted Santa Claus have all but disappeared. And without a doubt, hundreds of Jolly Old Elves also failed to talk to the kids.

Having to let go of this mutual affection has perhaps been particularly poignant in communities where receiving a gift is a very special thing, where dreaming of a bicycle or a basketball and receiving one is something to be remembered. a lifetime.

Soul Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive at the Walker-Ford Community Center for their annual visit on Saturday, December 21, 2019.

Airborne gifts and hugs in Frenchtown

It was in the communities of Frenchtown and Bond and the areas served by the LeVerne-Payne Community Center and the Walker Ford Community Center that the appearance of Soul Santa and Mrs. Claus and I particularly missed the Elves.

This year, the red-clad couple will once again make the trip from the North Pole, and while they won’t hug the little people on their knees, they will send overhead hugs as the kids wave and throw kisses from their cars. . The Elves will be on duty to distribute gifts to each child under the age of 10.

Frank Holmes, supervisor of the Smith Williams Service Center, which reports to the city’s Parks and Recreation division, is enthusiastic when describing the traditional arrival of Soul Santa.

Soul Santa arrives at Frenchtown by helicopter.

“It was created 25 years ago as a way to bring the community together,” he says. “At first it was part of an after-school program, and until recently he had become able to provide gifts and refreshments to 600 to 800 children every Christmas. “

Partnering with the King Foundation, a variety of sororities and fraternities, even one-year-old lawyer Ben Crump, the winter festival handed out basketballs to boys, dolls to girls, and hoops to young people who do n might not have received a gift at all otherwise. .

There is pizza to eat and apples, oranges and candy in little bags. There is even a donation of bikes to a number of lucky children.

Children have the chance to have a tête-à-tête on Soul Santa's lap at the Walker-Ford Community Center in 2014.

Fifteen year old in red costume

But there is no one who enjoys the day more than Santa Claus himself, who along with Mrs Noel loves to dress up to welcome the children.

Dexter Simmons, who has donned the crimson black-belted costume every Christmas for 15 years has a story. “I used to do the same for my church in Havana even before that since I was a teenager.”

Now he leads the parade aboard a fire engine, complete with a police escort and howling sirens, as he and Mrs Claus (sometimes known as Niykeal Westbury-Joseph) make their way through the communities before taking to a small stage at the Walker Ford Recreation Center.

Cornell Akins and son Kingston Akins, 1, pose for a photo with Ms Claus as she and Soul Santa tour the Walker-Ford Community Center on Saturday, December 21, 2019.

This year they will be as close to the boys and girls as they can get as the cars drive through Christmas fairy land.

Simmons says, “I love Christmas anyway, and I love hearing what kids say when I ask them if they’ve been good all year, what gift they would particularly like, who they’d like to give a gift to. .

Two children stand out from his memory. “A little girl of about 11 asked me if I could help her divorced parents get back together… it was difficult. And a little boy said he sent a letter to Santa Claus asking for only one thing… a basketball. “And I got one today!” ” he said. “Thank you, Father Christmas! It melted my heart.

Soul Santa arrives at the Walker-Ford Community Center.

Register in advance

Simmons, who says he has his own 6-year-old daughter, believes it’s important for children of color to see a Santa who looks like them. “I think they feel like they’re talking to their Santa Claus. It really is special.

Due to the organization required for the driving event, registration will be required. Frank Holmes says to go to and click on “Soul Santa” to find out more.

Registration can also be done in person at the Walker Ford Center. Registrations will close on December 16.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will be arriving on Saturday, December 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the LeVerne Payne and Walker-Ford community centers.

Contact Marina Brown at [email protected]

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If you are going to

What: Driving Tour of Soul Santa and Mrs. Claus

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at LeVerne Payne Community Center, 450 W. Fourth Ave., and Walker-Ford Community Center, 2302 Pasco St.

How? ‘Or’ What: Register in advance on Registration can also be done in person at the Walker Ford Center. Registrations will close on December 16.

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