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Rita Taylor, a volunteer at the Bemidji Senior Center, helps Santa distribute candy canes during a recent visit. Submitted photo

Thank you Santa, for a memory

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If there is one common thread about the Santas who are seen around town, it's that they want to spread joy and keep the magic of the season by remaining anonymous.

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There's one Santa who spends his day off from work at Sanford Health Bemidji by coming in, dressing up and walking the halls with bags of candy.

Santa just laughed when asked for an interview to find out why he takes his own time to return to work to spread good feelings.

"Well, it is different from changing bed pans," he joked.

Greetings of Merry Christmas to patients and visitors are welcome at a time of year when happiness and despair run together in a confused race of emotions

Last Friday, people at the Bemidji Senior Center were still talking about the Santa who came in at lunchtime on Thursday.

"Who was that man?"

Of course, they knew his name - Santa Claus but could it be the real one?

"I love to do it," he said. "The seniors were surprised to see me, they laughed and smiled. People who usually just sit around started to talk with each other and got their picture taken with Santa. It was amazing to see how people responded right away. I just walked around just before lunch and greeted people when they came in."

Mrs. Claus was not at the senior center but she does help out in Cass Lake, dressed appropriately in red. Santa has been going to the party that the Chamber of Commerce holds for the children for about nine years now.

"One of the nice things about having Santa come to these places is to see all the smiles on the kid's faces and the adults," one Santa said. "The little ones stay with their parents for awhile and then they come a little closer and get their picture taken with me."

For those unsung heroes who can assume the persona of jolly old St. Nick and touch the hearts of many for years to come, thank you.

There was a young teen who sat by her father's side in a hospital ward some years ago. With a flurry, the silence was broken by "Merry Christmas" as Santa and some of his elves arrived on the floor. Because it was New York City, who else but the Radio City Rockettes could appear with Santa?

To the young teen, they were the most beautiful elves and when they stopped by each bed to give a sprig of holly, it was magic.

Thank you, Santas, for a memory that has lasted through the years because it brought some hope and light to an otherwise somber time.

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