Big Country Santas take precautions to continue spreading cheer instead of COVID-19

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Santa Larry Fitzgerald has been in the big red suit since he was just 16 years old, first donning it at the Westgate Mall in Abilene when another Santa couldn’t make it.

He says it left such an impression on him that he continued to spread that cheer for many years after.

“The mall manager said, ‘Put on the suit, go out and yell ho ho ho and hand out candy,'” says Santa Larry.

Though he quickly found that there is much more that goes into being Santa.

“It’s very important to be generous, kind, and gentle, and those are the three things that you need to express to children,” Santa Larry said.

And to show that kindness, a Santa needs to be able to show up. Which is why Santa Larry and Santa Cameron in Ranger have kept up with their health, especially during the past year.

“I’ve always considered it very important to be as clean as possible. Kids need to know that things are going to keep going and that things can return to normal, and we’ve got to give them that hope by not being scared of saying hi and giving them a hug if they want one,” says Santa Cameron.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, that has come in the form of suit sanitation and Santa vaccination.

“I have been vaccinated, I’ve had all three shots, and I do that for the sake of the children and the sake of others that I come in contact with,” said Santa Larry.

“If I want to visit children and visit the nursing homes, that’s absolutely par for the course for me,” Santa Cameron said.

Cameron is a part of the Fraternal Order of the Real Bearded Santas, a national organization that decided this year to send out at-home testing kits to all of their members, ensuring that they could stay safe all season.

“Realistically, you have 100 kids come see you, you don’t want to carry anything whenever you don’t feel it,” says Santa Cameron.

While younger Santas like Cameron are putting this into practice, it’s a lesson any older Santa would share without hesitation.

“This is now my 51st year of wearing the red suit, and you learn a few things after half a century,” Santa Larry says.

Both Santa Larry Fitzgerald and Santa Cameron Buck are available for the holiday season and can be contacted at the numbers below. But don’t be upset if you happen to call while they’re out feeding the reindeer.

Santa Larry Fitzgerald: 325-668-7661

Santa Cameron Buck: 254-433-8711

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