After 40-years, George Power is hanging up the beard.
On Sunday, Dec. 9, Power participated in his 40th Christmas parade as Santa Claus.
He stepped into the suit, and the role, in 1978, just a few years after he joined the Carbonear Volunteer Fire Department.
They’ve been responsible for arranging Saint Nicholas’ presence at the community’s parades for years.
Power said that at the time, he was more than happy to fulfill the role of the new Santa Claus, and continued to take pride in the work for the following four decades. However, at the age of 82-years-old, Power has decided it’s time to pass the reindeer reins on to a new sleigh driver.
This was not an easy decision to make, Power told The Compass.
He’s seen, from behind the golden frames of his costume’s glasses, some of the best Carbonear had to offer during the Christmas season, and said he won’t soon forget some of the great memories from over the years.
“I’ll be 83-years-old next year, and I’ve still got my strength and my health,” Power said of the decision. “After 40 years, I figure now is a good time to give it up. I loved every minute of it, but, I guess now it’s time for someone else to be Santa Claus. Forty years is a mighty long time.”
One look around Power’s home during the holiday season, and one can easily determine just how enthusiastic he and his wife are about Christmas.
Ornaments and decorations line the walls and countertops, and Power said he wasted no time getting his lights up this year with the help of his son.
Family has played a big role in ensuring Power was ready to go when it came time to board the sleigh for Carbonear’s Christmas parade.
His wife, Mary, took on the role of Mrs. Claus for the majority of her husband’s 40-year stint as Santa. Later his daughter, granddaughter, and daughter-in-law played the role when Mary was no longer feeling up to it.
“We’ve all been involved in it at one point I think,” Power said proudly. “For the last few years, me and my son put the float together, too. We’ve got it down to a pattern now, with each piece numbered, ready to go when the time comes.”
The float, complete with each of Santa’s reindeer, is one Power helped build when he first started the gig in 1978.
Power’s role as Father Christmas did not just mean he had to don the suit once a year to attend the town’s Christmas parade. Instead, Power found himself attending a multitude of events during the holiday season, including trips to local long-term care facilities, as well as yearly Christmas parties for differently abled children. As well, for a number of years, Power would make his rounds to the homes of fellow firefighters, where he would tuck their young children into bed and remind them how to stay on Santa’s nice list.
“I’d always tell them – don’t forget to leave a lunch out for Santa, he loves chocolate chip biscuits,” Power said with a hearty chuckle.
Power’s efforts have not gone unrecognized by the town, either. Following Sunday’s parade, he was presented with a number of plaques to display from the fire brigade, and from Steve Crocker, MHA for the region, to commemorate Power’s lengthy dedication to the red-and-white suit.
“Yes b’y, I really loved doing it. Getting up in that sleigh, greeting all the little children, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas – it’s all something I’ll never forget,” Power said, reminiscing over the last 40-years. “It’s sad to put it behind me, but I’m happy to do it now, while I still have my health.”
Power had a final event scheduled for Dec. 20, and expeced to get a call or two in the lead-up to Christmas for Santa Claus to make a special appearance.
After that, Power will finally return his suit to the brigade, leaving behind a legacy — and a red suit — for someone new to step into.