Has Santa Claus moved to Kilgore?

By Taylor Hemness - bio | email

KILGORE, TX - David Bond of Kilgore spends most of the year as the cemetery supervisor for the city of Kilgore. And he spends part of the year with a normal haircut and beard.

"Around Memorial Day, I just let myself go to rack and ruin," Bond said.

It takes David more than six months to let his beard and hair grow out. But once the transformation is complete, he shows up in the big red suit at spots all over Kilgore.

Kilgore Library director Linda Johnson says that several years ago, she asked David to be a part of the library's Christmas plans. And she says it has paid off.

"Every year, the hair gets whiter, the beard gets more full, and his eyes are so twinkly," Johnson said. "It attracts all the children. It even attracts the adults."

"I'll whisper in their ear and say, 'Now don't forget, Santa loves milk and cookie. Will you leave me some out?'" Bond said.  "And then the kid lights up and smiles, and parents are sitting back wondering, 'What is he saying to them?'"

And as much as David enjoys his role, he hopes it's just a supporting one.

"I'm just a carnival ride or whatever. But you put in the reason we're celebrating Christmas, then Santa's happy."

David will be in the Kilgore Christmas parade Tuesday night, and will make his annual appearance at the library on December 7th from 6 to 7:30 PM.

He also has other appearances planned all month long. But he says one of his favorite days of the month is the day after Christmas, when he can shave his beard, and cut his hair.

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