Santa Claus hides out in his locksmith shop when he’s off-duty

Santa Claus hides out in his locksmith shop when he’s off-duty

STORY AND VIDEO: Santa the locksmith

Santa Claus was reading through a stack of letters written in bold with coloured markers when I met him at Gary’s Lock and Security Shop.



Santa Claus was reading through a stack of letters written in bold with coloured markers when I met him at Gary’s Lock and Security Shop.

I managed to catch him during one of his mornings off in December. His jacket and belt were hung on a door at the back of the shop, and he wore a faded red collared shirt and velvet red hat, complete with a white pom-pom and trim.

“These are so sweet,” he said, as his droll little mouth drew up like a bow.

One of the letters read: “I want a cake, and two candy sticks. A tin cup and a penny. Some horses and a team.”

He chuckled. The beard on his chin was as white as the snow, although it didn’t always used to be.

“First of all, I started with a phony beard, then I started spraying it with white spray. Once I started growing a beard I just kept it all year long,” he said.

In the 70s, he grew up surrounded by a large family with lots of kids. On Christmas Eve, he would hand the presents out to everyone. When he first started growing out his beard as a young man it was dark, so he’d use spray to whiten his beard for the holiday season.

Santa is now 73-years-old, and doesn’t need to whiten his beard anymore. He has also grown in popularity over the years. As soon as the holiday parties start in December he’s one of the most sought after guests.

He rode in the parade at Winterfest, and had breakfast with all the kids in the community who came to see him. This past weekend, he visited with the children from Metlakatla, Helijet flew him around town to see the children waiting for him at the hanger, and then he is meeting with the city worker’s kids, the longshoremen and the list goes on.

Luckily, there are elves at each of these parties to wrap presents for him so he has something to give each of the children who sit on his knee.

I asked him what the strangest thing someone has asked Santa for.

“They ask for anything from dogs, to pianos, to cats. There are some more serious ones though. One fellow asked me to make his grandpa better. He’s in the hospital, so it’s tough,” Santa said letting out a sigh.

“You don’t really answer, you just say, ‘I’ll see what I can do.’”

His own kids are all grown up and he has six grandkids. One year, they gave grandpa Santa a gift — a red vinyl photo album, with “Santa’s Memories” embossed on a gold plate. Inside, are all the newspaper clippings, photos and some special Christmas cards from over the years.

As Santa ages, he said his knees are starting to hurt. After the last party he had a bunch of kids sitting on his knee, telling him their Christmas wishes, and the next morning his said he was a tad achy.

But he will continue, for as long as he can.  Being Santa has been a special part of his life. In the off-season, he runs Gary’s Lock and Security Shop on Second Avenue West.

“Santa has to have a job,” he said.

He chooses to stay in Prince Rupert for the moderate weather and the proximity to the North Pole.

“I don’t have to travel too far.”

With the chilly Arctic outflow, it seemed that the city might have had a rare white Christmas — that was before the rain returned on Saturday..

“I think I’ve only seen snow once or twice on Christmas Eve in my life,” he said.

All Santa is asking for this Christmas is for the kids in Prince Rupert to behave themselves, and to believe in him — and if they could leave out a plate of cookies and a bit of ale when he comes to visit their home on Dec. 24, he would be grateful.

After Christmas, he used to trim his beard down to one-quarter of an inch and fly off to Hawaii for a vacation. But he said the last time he shaved his beard right down no one recognized him, so he won’t be doing that this year.

For those still conjuring their Christmas wishes, Santa offers one piece of advice, the secret to achieving happiness is simple.

“It’s all in your heart what you believe. If you’re going to be cranky, then that’s what you’re going to be. Just try to be happy and get along with people. That’s what life is all about.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BC CDC mapping for the week ending April 4, shows a sharp decrease in COVID-19 cases to 27 in Prince Rupert down 45 from the week prior. (Image: BCCDC)
Sharp decline in Prince Rupert COVID-19 cases

Prince Rupert lab-confirmed cases are down 62.5 per cent in one week

Blair Mirau, Gitmaxmak’ay Nisga’a Society CEO, is seen in a hydroponic greenhouse the society purchased in 2020 to promote food stability and local supply. (Photo: supplied)
Three P.R. organizations partner to develop food distribution network

$167,000 grant awarded to GSN, PRDCC and Ecotrust Canada to strengthen food supply chains

Food security and local production were topics at the April 12 public hearing to discuss new zoning bylaws and new OCP bylaws in Prince Rupert. A shipping container-style hydroponic growing unit in Whitehorse on July 26, 2020 is similar to one purchased by the Gitmaxmak’ay Nisga’a Society for local food production. (Photo: Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Food security and local production were growing concerns at city held public hearing

No provision in new zoning bylaws and new OCP for urban agriculture zones in Prince Rupert

Members of Prince Rupert Rotary Club gave back to their community on April 15 by providing a facelift to the city's gateway at McClymont Park. (Photo: K-J Millar)
Acts of Kindness Day being honoured in Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert Rotary Club is encouraging acts of kindness all week long

A ball balances on the rim. New basketball court surfaces and nets will be installed as part of the McBride Street Multi-sport Court Redevelopment project to which Pembina donated $20,000. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Nothing but net for $20,000 Pembina donation

McBride Street multi-sport court redevelopment project in the planning

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
Out-of-region B.C. vacation bookings, RV ferry reservations to be refused, Horgan says

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
BREAKING: Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
B.C. health authority seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

Chakalaka Bar and Grill plans to continue serving customers without public health compliance

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to open up AstraZeneca vaccines for all people 40+, set up clinics in hot spots

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Most Read