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The Texas Real Santa has been making people happy for almost 30 years in so many ways. Santa, Ms. Claus and often guest appearances by a few elves and reindeer have entertained and brought the Christmas Spirit of Joy and Love to young and old alike. Texas Real Santa has starred in Parades, featured in many newspaper articles, and TV specials (Debra Duncan, TV55 with Laura Bell, Toy Drive for Channel 2, Houston's Children Museum, Country Clubs, Daycare Centers, Little Gyms around the Houston area, International Cheer Power at Reliant Center)
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Houston Chronicle Article

Updated 9:15 pm, Thursday, December 22, 2011

'Santa' believes he's the real deal, too

Believe.

If only for a moment. Let the restraints and realities of the adult world fall away. Brush away the skepticism, the cynicism, the doubt.

Reach back, retrieve the innocence and imagination of childhood, and embrace some seasonal sentiment.

Believe that there really is a Santa Claus.

Believe that the red-suited man with the gold wire-rimmed glasses and twinkling blue eyes is not Deryl McKenzie, 60-year-old Kingwood Realtor, but the real deal, the right jolly old elf in flesh and spirit.

Everything about him fits the bill. The snow-white beard. The rosy cheeks. The benevolent smile. And the laugh.

That deep-throated, belly-shaking, trombone of a "ho-ho-ho." It flows from his lips as he steps out of his taupe Ford Suburban. It bellows from his mouth as he enters a room. It brings giggles to children skittish about climbing into his lap.

It could only belong to one man.

"There's no doubt in my mind that he's the real Santa. He has an air about him that's just amazing," said Terry Leibowitz, director of member relations at the Kingwood Country Club, where St. Nick is a fixture at the annual Christmas party. "If you see him, tell him what you want for Christmas."

That's what children do. All year round. Wherever they spot him. They tiptoe up to the strapping 6-foot-1, 290-pound, cotton-haired man and ask: "Are you Santa?"

Yes, he replies. I am.

"I believe I'm Santa," he explains, with just a touch of Texas twang. "The children made me believe that I am, and that feeling has stayed inside me."

He works magic

When Santa first donned the fur-trimmed red suit and matching cap 28 years ago, he worked mostly at malls and served as the Santa for city of Houston events for 16 years.

He quickly gained a reputation for calming even the most recalcitrant of children.

Just look at the magic he worked with 2-year-old Kara Johnson, who at first squirmed and rebuffed his greetings during a visit at a Humble realty office on Thursday. Within a few minutes, Kara was echoing his baritone ho-ho-ho's with whispery ho-ho-ho's of her own.

Her 6-year-old brother, Nathan, needed no convincing. The little boy knew he had met the real Santa because "that's what Santa looks like."

In the early days, however, Santa needed some cosmetic touches. Back then, his hair was jet-black and needed three days of bleaching to reach the right shade of white.

Back then, his crimson suits, ordered from the Santa Claus Suit and Equipment Co., cost $800; now, they run up to $2,100 apiece. (His black patent leather boots are custom-made by the Mingo Boot Co. in El Paso).

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A full calendar

Back then, his three children, and later, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, believed he spent Christmas delivering gifts.

That hasn't changed.

Santa's calendar - actually a spiral-bound notebook kept by Mrs. Claus - is packed with appointments from Dec. 1 through Christmas Day. This year, he's appeared at private parties and parades, museum galas and office gatherings.

On Christmas weekend, he'll stop by several homes to dispense presents and regale families with Christmas carols.

When it's over, on Dec. 26, he always feels a twinge of sadness.

"If I could do this 12 months a year, I would," says Santa. "Being Santa means having the spirit of giving, of caring, of faith. Anytime anyone helps another person, they have the Santa spirit."

http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/That-s-what-Santa-looks-like-2421191.php

monica.rhor@chron.com

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