Here Comes Santa Claus
The smell of peppermint oil, the clanking of sleigh bells and those rosy-red cheeks. Kevin John Williams dressed as Saint Nick can make the scrooges among us beam with
holiday cheer. So, how did this local Santa get his start? Turns out, ageing has a bit to do with it.
How It Happened
Four years ago, Kevin let his beard grow out and realized that it was coming in white – very white. As a prank, Kevin and his wife Joyce, a.k.a Mrs. Claus, thought it might be fun to attend a friend’s holiday party with Kevin dressed as Santa. The white beard and suit were a bigger-than-expected hit at the party, but Kevin did not don the red suit or the beard at all the following year.
It wasn’t until Thanksgiving morning, 2015, that Kevin threw together a WordPress website and by Tuesday was receiving calls and getting booked to be the season’s jolliest mascot.
In addition to the website, Kevin ran some ads in the paper and a few Facebook ads to get things started. This year, Williams isn’t advertising at all. Williams also leaves behind memorable business cards called “Christmas coins;” a kind of keepsake from his visits that spread the word about his work and his commitment to sharing the joyous nature of Santa Claus and the holidays.
Some of Kevin’s most rewarding experiences have come from the volunteer work he does as Santa. His local stops include Harrisburg Hospital and the nearby women’s shelters. He also treks to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore to visit the children each year in the first week of December.
One of the most heartfelt moments Kevin has experienced happened in Steelton. Santa was making an appearance at a low-income housing development, asking each child what they wanted for Christmas, Santa was stunned by one child’s response. “Gloves,” the child answered.
“It’s something so basic. It makes you realize how fortunate you really are,” says Kevin. For the second year, Santa will be riding in the fire truck at the Red Lion tree lighting. Kevin enjoys riding in the fire truck, while Joyce knows it means a lot to some members of the Red Lion community. “Some of those kids, you know that this is the best thing that’s going to happen the entire Christmas season,” says Joyce.
The Fun of It
Joyce and Kevin do all the work and make the preparations for Santa’s arrival on their own. Although, in previous years, Kevin tried to solicit his nephew to be an elf helper, but upon seeing the costume, the prideful nephew committed to a once-and-done performance. “We couldn’t get him to wear the tights,” laughs Kevin.
The most difficult part of climbing into that suit? It’s the beard. “It takes a while to fluff my beard,” Kevin says.
He also admits that the hat and suit can be incredibly hot, especially when unseasonably warm weather is forecasted for the holiday, which is why Santa’s choice of rides is a
convertible. Kevin says minivans race to catch up with the convertible when they see Santa riding shotgun. In several cases, as the Claus’ would pass cars on the highway, wide-eyed children can be seen glued to the window.
Despite the costume difficulties, Kevin and Joyce wouldn’t give up spreading Christmas cheer for the anything. Joyce says, “We always have fun while we’re doing this. But then we think, when we’re gone, we are always going to be a part of someone’s family because there’s always going to be the pictures of us with that family.”
Trying to find the elusive Kris Kringle? When he isn’t cruising around Central Pa. in his convertible with Mrs. Claus, Santa can be found frequenting hot spots like Black N Bleu on the West Shore,
Restaurant Row in downtown Harrisburg and any local Starbucks, because even Santa must get his energy from somewhere. Available for private
parties, corporate parties and product launches, he can also be found at santa-a-gogo.com.
Trying to get on the nice list?
Harrisburg Magazine asked Santa what his holiday favorites are, so don’t forget to leave the right type of
cookies out on Christmas Eve!
Who’s your favorite reindeer?
What’s your favorite kind of cookie?
What is your favorite holiday song?
Little Drummer Boy (David Bowie and Bing Crosby version).
What is your favorite Christmas movie?
Miracle on 34th Street.
Question you get asked the most?
Where are the reindeer?
How does Santa get into a house with no chimney?
With a magical golden key that can open any door.