The Huntsville Santa is Here to Help us Through These Uncertain Times
As we’ve all retreated to our homes to shelter in place during the novel coronavirus crisis, stress and anxiety are high. We are all seeking creature comforts to calm our nerves. We are baking up a storm, having family dance parties, and we’re leaning into the thing that brings us the most comfort and joy: Christmas.
Since we are all staying home to flatten the curve of this virus, there has been a movement across the country to put our holiday decorations back out. Hallmark is giving us Christmas movies every weekend, and now we can report, in Alabama, Santa is reporting for duty.
Last Saturday night, on a Facebook Live broadcast, Santa appeared from his workshop (or a satellite office in Huntsville, Alabama if we’re talking details) to answer questions, offer re-assuring words, and to read us all a story.
The man behind the jolly is Alabama resident, Bob Boyer, Huntsville’s most well-known Santa. Boyer makes regular appearances at local Christmas events like the Huntsville Christmas parade and the Huntsville Botanical Gardens annual event, Galaxy of Lights. But, by day, he’s the production manager and newscast director for local news station, WZDX. He’s had a front-row seat to the rapid-speed, ever changing situation as America fights against COVID-19, the coronavirus. As the bad news felt never-ending, Boyer thought he had a unique way to help. As the doctors and nurses, hospital staff, grocers, truck drivers and more are working tirelessly to keep us safe and fed, it seems like a good time for Santa to punch his timecard in a few months early. He got the idea from a familiar friend—Elsa. Yes, that one. Turns out Boyer has a friend who makes appearances at birthday parties and events as the all-powerful Disney princess and when the stay-at-home orders were issued, she turned her business virtual, still taking bookings but Elsa will video chat instead of personally attend a party. Boyer said, “Well, I thought that was kind of cool. What if we did that with Santa and not charge anyone?” He began to formulate a plan about how to bring this idea to life.
“Why don’t we try to do Mr. Rogers meets Santa Claus? ‘Cause I think that’s what the world is needing right now, especially for children, somebody who can say hey, it’s going to be OK,” he said.
Boyer had already put his elaborate Christmas decorations out front, so he went to work building Santa’s workshop in his living room. And last Saturday night, for what Boyer thought would just be a one-time deal, Santa told Christmas themed jokes, answered questions, and tried to make life seem a little less scary. At one point he even explained why we might be seeing a lot of people wearing masks like doctors and nurses wear, and that it’s not scary. We don’t need to be afraid of the masks, he explained in a gentle tone that only Santa could do. He closed with a reading of The Night Before Christmas, a bedtime story with two purposes. He reads at the end to serve as a bedtime story children will enjoy, sure, but also, “maybe the kids will go to sleep early and mom and dad can have Saturday night to themselves and maybe they would appreciate that little gift from Santa,” he said, adding that he heard from a few parents that their child did fall asleep with the story, just as he’d hoped. Boyer shared his new project with his colleagues at the TV station. Check out the video below.
For Boyer, becoming Santa isn’t just about his love of Christmas, but he feels very driven to give back, to be, as his inspiration Mr. Rogers once famously referenced, he wants to be one of the helpers. “Part of the reason I try to give back and I try to do stuff like this, 8 years ago I had a major heart attack and a couple months after that, I had a full on heart transplant. That gives you a whole new perspective on life in general. At least it did for me. It makes you want to try and do something good for other people and try to give back. I’ve been very lucky to meet my donor family and they are just thrilled and excited that their son’s heart is keeping Santa going.”
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We think this would be a great use of all of the baked goods you’re making these days. Make a plate of cookies for Santa, break out the Christmas jammies, and tune into Facebook Saturday night, at 7PM CST. We can’t wait!