Photo: Lyra Monteiro
Santa is downtown again – as he has been, at this time of year, for the last four years.
“What you have here on Westminster are shop owners and managers working together, residents greeting each other, you have church bells, you have kids coming from the day care center filling the streets with laughter. You have an authentic, vibrant urban scene. For me, Westminster Street is all about community. You can see it, you can smell it, you can feel it, you can taste it, it’s a beautiful feeling.”
When he’s on Westminster Street, he talks to people, and of course asks kids what they want for Christmas. “We think that children today are all materialistic, but the number of kids who say ‘There’s a lot of kids in the world who have nothing, I really have a lot already’ amazes me. There’s some hope for the future.”
Some people think his voice is a little similar to that of Frank, the Director of Public Space for the Downtown Improvement District, though the belly is significantly larger than Frank’s, and Frank doesn’t have a beard.
“Santa comes down to Westminster Street at different times of the year, and I feel that holiday spirit here all year. Because the holiday spirit is about people connecting with people, and on Westminster you have that, a city experience on a human scale that is second to none in the whole country. I love to come here, recharge my batteries and spread the good spirit to the rest of the world. Mrs Claus loves it when I come here. She says, ‘Let me know when you’re going to Providence, because I want to hang out.’
“So many people have memories of coming down here with their grandparents and parents. Now it’s coming back. There’s something called the Downtown Improvement District, they make it clean and safe and welcome, and people are grateful. Those guys are getting something special in their stockings this year.”
As for tonight, “I want to thank all the kids that leave Rudolph the carrots. Not as many cookies, use the whole grains. Buy stuff from Whole Foods for Rudolph! He could get diabetes.”
And he would love it if you could leave out a glass of Bello Rosso chianti from Eno, before going to bed. “Santa’s gotta eat and drink too!”