If you’re like me and have had a hard time catching the Christmas spirit this year, my advice is to hang out with Santa.
On Monday, I took the assignment of photographing Santa visiting residents at Windsor Place skilled nursing home.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Santa appeared outside the windows of the residents’ individual rooms, communicating with them over the phone.
The event was the brainchild of Traci Plumlee, marketing director of Allen County Regional Hospital, and the Allen County Sheriff’s Department. Deputy Darren Kellerman videotaped Santa’s visits for several hours Monday and again today, along with Plumlee, who did double duty as Mrs. Claus.
“HO, HO, HO. Merry Christmas!” boomed Santa’s voice at each window.
From there he did the “naughty or nice” bit and that he was checking his list — yes, twice.
What began as a kitschy exercise, soon turned into a heartwarming experience. Some took the opportunity to share with Santa their upcoming doctor’s appointments and what they had going on health-wise.
Despite the logistical nightmare of delivering millions of toys during a pandemic just three days away, Santa took his time with each resident, hearing them out.
Sometimes he’d get them to engage in a brief sing-a-long. “Silent Night,” was a favorite selection.
Not all could muster a deep-throated “ho, ho, ho,” per Santa’s request, but he understood.
When asked what they wanted for Christmas, the universal answer was, “Get rid of this pandemic.”
Plumlee said Santa is “a natural,” recalling a holiday visit to Branson’s Silver Dollar City more than 20 years ago that served as his inspiration.
“I told him he’d better burnish up his resume then,” she said. This is his second year on the job.
In between gigs, Santa, aka Brian Plumlee, works as a resource officer for the sheriff’s department.
SANTA’S other stops Monday were to Allen County Regional Hospital and Greystone Assisted Living.
Today, he’ll visit Heartland Meadows, Arrowood Lane in Humboldt and Moran Manor in Moran.