Santa Claus makes local appearance

Santa Claus and Pauline Martin hug in the bazaar held at the Fairgrounds.

Santa Claus and Pauline Martin hug in the bazaar held at the Fairgrounds. Photo by Michael Lopez.

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WALLA WALLA — John Perkins’ Christmas spirit is alive and well, and it arrived Friday morning in an Walla Walla County Fire District 4 engine at the Walla Walla County Fairgrounds.

“We are just going to make sure all the kids get a candy cane,” Perkins, one of a handful of local Santas, said about his season opener for the Christmas Trio Gift Show.

For about six years, Perkins has been the regular for the annual fairgrounds Christmas bazaar. He has also made other notable Santa appearances at The Olive Market, the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center and numerous other gigs, including playing Santa one year for the Macy’s Parade of Lights.

His appearances are also his gift to the community.

“I could be in the big city and I still wouldn’t charge,” Perkins said, noting that his authentic white beard and age cause him to get many requests for the part, sometimes for gigs as far away as Alaska. So far, he has played Santa only close to home. “I think Christmas is something to celebrate and have fun with. When you start putting a price tag on fun, then you start cutting out a lot of people that could be there.”

Perkins said his photographer also takes photos for free and emails them to families.

“There are very few people without emails. And so we send it to their email, and they can copy it. There is no copyright,” he said.

Perkins picked up the Santa gig several years ago after his father-in-law, and former Santa, died and left a Santa suit.

Now he has three suits and the precious beard he cares for all year long.

“When I order a burger, I have them leave off the ketchup and mustard. And when I order spaghetti, I don’t order it at all. There is nothing worse than to see a Santa with a red wring around it,” he said.

Between now and Christmas, Perkins will ho, ho, ho at around 20 different locations, where he gives out candy canes and hears wish lists for free.

“And it should be free,” he said.

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