Waco Chat

Santa Claus

By Kevin Tankersley

The jolly man in the red suit

“If you allow it, the Christmas spirit is everywhere.”

How old is Santa Claus? Well, that’s a good question. Some sources say that the history of the monk who evolved into Santa can be traced back more than 1,700 years. Other sources say that the date of Santa’s birth is shrouded in mystery, so that Grinch-like time travelers can’t voyage back over the centuries and do harm to a baby Santa.

But in an exclusive interview with the WACOAN, Santa revealed his real age: “Santa is 365 years old. Santa takes a break after Christmas. Generally in February, we go someplace tropical,” he said.

He and Mrs. Claus were in town, you see, to talk about how much they are looking forward to returning to Waco later this month for Christmas Lights in the Village, a Mayborn Museum tradition.

It will be a great family time. Last year they put in a snow machine. They have a petting zoo. They have carolers. They have vendors. And they serve hot chocolate and all sorts of food. It’s one of the truest family experiences you can get around here. It’s not commercialized. It’s like stepping into the past. And that’s one reason we really truly love doing this. If you allow it, the Christmas spirit is everywhere.

And when you’re out here at the village, the lights that you see, especially on a hazy night, they’re kind of twinkling. It’s like a memory. It’s a feeling you get like when grandma used to read Christmas books at Christmas time. It’s the same feeling. And it’s something that you truly look forward to every year, the children and the adults as well.

Why is Christmas spirit important? Have you seen what goes on in the world? Even back in the dark ages, people were dying and there was misery, suffering. It’s the one time a year, and you hope it carries on through the year, that you can bring out the good in people, or at least give them hope.

Being part of Christmas spirit, it’s actually kind of selfish. I enjoy the look in the children’s and families’ eyes. There is something when you come upon a child and they recognize you and you feel you have accomplished something. A sense of accomplishment of bringing hope and cheer to children and their families.

One of the things I do, and Mrs. Claus often semi-scolds me for it, I will sit there and let the child tell me what is in his heart or her heart, telling me what they want and things like that. And that one-on-one is important. You listen to the child and sometimes, they will have questions. They have had trauma in their life. Like, ‘Why is my daddy not here?’, especially during war times.

And you try to comfort them as much as you can. It’s part of the [Santa Claus] oath. I know I will receive questions I do not have the answers for, but you try to comfort them as best as you can.


Santa Claus will, of course, be the star at the fourth Christmas Lights in the Village, presented by Reliant, to be held Dec. 8-10 and 15-17 at the Mayborn Museum’s Governor Bill and Vera Daniel Village.

Each day, from 6-9 p.m., visitors can enjoy train rides, a petting zoo, audio tours, foods from local vendors and, most importantly, pictures with Santa. More than 30,000 lights will illuminate the village, which is located behind the museum at 1300 South University Parks Drive in Waco.

Admission is $12 for adults and children ages 2 and up, and $8 for museum members and Baylor students. More information can be found at MaybornLights.com.