Photo /Wes Kuykendall

Santa has been coming to San Fernando before Christmas for decades to greet local kids.

The tree lighting ceremony in the City of San Fernando was postponed.  It didn’t make sense to have residents breathe in smoke filled air and light up the city’s Christmas tree while so many trees and homes nearby in the hillsides of Sylmar, burned down. 

Such tragedy during the holiday season gave residents in the Northeast Valley much pause.  Conversations turned to the realization that from one day to the next,  life can completely change.  Watching the flames and listening to the news reports, people weren’t feeling so jovial.  

But, as the winds died down and firefighters got hold of the Creek Fire, the air began to clear, and a  thumbs up sign was given for the annual event to go forward and Santa Claus got ready for his annual pre-Christmas visit.  This year, people seemed  to appreciate him just  a little bit more.  

As is the tradition, Santa came to town in style, cruising the streets of San Fernando in a ‘58 Chevy.  Adults seemed as excited to see him as much as the kids, waving, honking their horns and calling out to ask for a photo with the man in the red suit and his “ride”

As the kids lined up to meet him, one little girl asked him for an American Doll “that looks just like me.”  A boy asked him for a car set.   As they made their requests, Santa looked at their parents to see if they would give him a little cue, a “yes,” or “no” nod.   Although, these days, he says he really tries to stay away from asking kids what they want knowing that it may not always be possible to deliver their Christmas wishes.  But kids are excited and sometimes just let him know, even if he hasn’t asked.

 Santa told the The San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol that he has the best job that anyone could have and with moments that he’ll never forget.  

“It’s the greatest thing I have the opportunity to do, “ Santa shared. 

“Some years back, I visited a convalescent home in Sylmar and walked into the room of an elderly woman. When she saw me, she asked me for a kiss, so I bent down and gave her a kiss on her forehead.  When I turned to walk out, I saw the nurses and caregivers at the doorway, crying.  I asked why, and one told me, ‘She doesn’t talk, that’s the first time we’ve ever heard her speak.’ “

Santa also said he’s met the kindest people living in the most underprivileged areas, he said one boy he will always remember who unexpectedly touched his heart and in reverse gave him joy,  “Poor communities aren’t new to me.  I have been in very poor communities. During one of those visits, there was one boy who I will always remember.   When I asked him what he wanted for Christmas, he said, ‘Nothing, I just want a hug from you.’ “   

“It’s all about the spirit,” Santa imparted. 

“We should never stop believing in Santa”