By Kevin Wilson
Mike Parkey genuinely feels two emotions when he’s in a Santa Claus outfit for the Mayor’s Christmas Tree.
He’s delighted to see the look on the eyes of children he brings gifts to, and he’s relieved that he still needs a pillow under the coat to give an accurate portrayal of Santa.
“They furnish the suit,” Parkey said, “and I just jump in and do it.”
They refers to the city, which provided suits and drivers for Parkey and five other volunteer Santas. It refers to a delivery shift, anywhere from two to four hours, across the city to deliver presents to children and their families.
Every year, the Mayor’s Christmas Tree, located in City Hall, holds scrolls that include the names of needy children in the community.
Each scroll holds a child’s age and sex, and community members were asked to take a scroll and purchase an age-appropriate toy and clothing item. Those gifts were then returned to City Hall in preparation for Monday’s delivery.
Veda Urioste of City Hall said that there were 210 children on the list, meaning that 420 packages (one clothing item, one toy) were to be delivered by one of the Santas and their driver.
The people who act as drivers and as Santa are volunteers, but Parkey said that helping people out worked as the reward.
“It’s worth it just seeing their eyes light up,” said Parkey, who is in his second year as a Santa.
Families also receive a ham and other small gifts to help provide a Christmas for those who otherwise might not have one.
“If it wasn’t for the community,” Urioste said, “we’d never be able to have this successfully happen every year.”