GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – He was the last person families who gathered at Green Bay’s Marquette Park were expecting to see.
Even behind the shades and trimmer summer beard, there was no denying who was in town for a rare summer visit.
“Santa Claus!” yelled a young boy after the Jolly Old Elf tapped him on the shoulder to say hello.
“They’re all good kids,” declared Santa. “They all recognize Santa. I don’t have a big beard because it’s a little warm. But it will be back by Christmas.”
Santa is here thanks in part to Green Bay Santa, Inc. It’s a nonprofit, formed by Santa’s very good friends, the owners of the legendary Lil Jamaica food truck which helps Santa get around since the sleigh’s no good without snow.
“My best friend is Derron Wilson who owns Lil Jamaica,” Santa confirmed. “One day we just wanted to give back because of Covid. So many people were hurting. So many kids couldn’t experience the joy of Christmas.”
So a bunch of volunteers collected donations and they held a parade in some of Green Bay’s most challenged neighborhoods.
Just last Christmas the Green Bay Police Department helped the group out.
“The Green Bay PD helped us with food cards to give out to our adoptive families,” explained Lil Jamaica’s Janel Johnson.
So when the opportunity presented itself to return the favor, this summer, they organized a food truck rally fundraiser for GBPD. Santa insisted on taking part.
“I love children,” declared Santa. “Mine are all grown. So this is my way of giving back to the community.”
As it turns out Santa brought some of his magic to this first-ever event. The turnout nearly brought Johnson to tears.
“I can’t believe the people that showed up!”
A gesture to help us all get through Covid now becoming something of a tradition to keep that spirit of goodwill going all year long.