WATCH: The Only Thing More Moving Than This Photo of a Mall Santa Kneeling in Front of a WWII Veteran Is the Story Behind It
“Boy! I got the impression this was the real Santa Claus.”
Shoppers at the Concord Mall in Wilmington, Delaware, are convinced that the mall’s resident Santa Claus could very well be the real deal.
Earlier this month, Gina Wilbur was shopping with her son when she snapped a photo of the mall’s Santa stepping away from his Christmas throne to thank an elderly veteran for his service. Wilbur shared the pic, which shows Kris Kringle kneeling down in front of the man, on Facebook, and melting hearts in the process.
“Christmas shopping with Cavan and took a second to sit on a bench near Santa’s workshop... then Santa steps away from his Chair... he walks over to a veteran sitting on the wall... as Santa approaches, the veteran stands and Santa takes a knee,” Wilbur wrote alongside the sweet snap.
“I hear Santa telling the gentleman, in a soft voice, of others he knew who served,” her caption continues. “He shakes his hand with genuine gratefulness thanking him for his service and returns to the children. Best moment of my day.”
After Wilbur’s photo went viral, the Delaware News Journal was able to catch up with the man—retiree Bob Smiley—who explained that been walking around the mall getting exercise wearing a World War II veteran's hat when Santa approached him.
“I’m 93 years old, and I walk every day and when there’s inclement weather or cold weather I usually walk in the Concord Mall because it has a lot of benches," he said. "I sit down quite frequently.”
Smiley revealed that Santa told him his father also served in World War II, as well as the Korean War.
“Boy! I got the impression this was the real Santa Claus,” Smiley continued. “He was so soft-spoken and obviously kind. I’d say he’s the real deal.”
As for Santa? He told the News Journal that the sweet moment is all in a day’s work. He also insisted that his real name is Santa Claus and that he resides in the North Pole.
"Pretty much I was doing what I do every day," Santa said. "Now the difference is on that particular day, Santa got caught."
"I think we owe a debt of gratitude to these men and women who serve our nation," Santa continued. "Not just in the military, but those on the front line, the first responders, our police, our firefighters. All are so important and we owe them the time."