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Letter: Operation Santa Claus – 2009

On Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, at approximately 5:30 p.m., I reported to the Williston Park Village Hall, put on a Santa suit, met my helper-driver, Maureen Rogers, collected our assignment and planned our route to deliver presents to homes in the Village of Williston Park.

I was not the only volunteer for Operation Santa Claus. Several other men gave their time and made deliveries with their helper-drivers.

As I was getting ready to leave village hall I began reflecting on my time as Santa. To my surprise, 2009 was my 30th year. I originally began as a helper-driver under the urging of then Mayor Carl DelVecchio. I graduated to a Santa as my hair got grayer and my waist got wider.

Over those 30 years, I have made deliveries to the same streets and avenues. As a result, I have visited many of the same families many times. I have seen sweet little children grow into responsible and mature adults. Operation Santa is so popular that children who have grown up and moved away return to their parent’s homes for Christmas Eve. Many who have married bring their children “home” so the Santa cycle continues for another generation. Over the course of time, I have delivered presents to children whose parents I had delivered presents to when they were children.

It is not always little children who get presents. In the past I delivered many assorted presents to various family members. I once delivered keys to a new car and even a diamond engagement ring. This year one Santa delivered a puppy.

Nothing is more delightful to me than seeing the look of wonder and joy on the faces of children when a bell ringing Santa comes into their homes with presents and a promise to deliver more after they go to sleep. The reactions of the adults, the parents and grandparents and visitors in the homes are also really nice to see. Many a hard-nosed, grumpy adult, pressured by their problems of life, melts into mushy syrup upon seeing the joyful reactions of the children.

I must confess that I only delivered to my own home twice. The first time my children were not completely convinced a real Santa had come and the second time my grandchildren looked at Santa with some suspicion.

Next year we could use more volunteer Santas and helpers. It doesn’t take long and it is time well spent. If you can, join us. I know you will find it as rewarding as I always have.

Alan J. Reardon