Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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November 25, 2012

Some secrets of Santa

DUNLAP — Kris Kringle. Jolly Old Saint Nick. Father Christmas.

Santa Claus goes by many names, but the one thing that stays the same is the joy the Christmas persona brings to children around the world.

Santa will make some special visits to Elkhart County, including an extended stay at Concord Mall from now through Christmas Eve. Judy Roberts, a local photographer with Artistic Portraits by Judy, takes photographs while local children meet Santa and tell him what they want for Christmas.

“It’s interesting because you never know what their reaction will be,” Roberts said. “Their age really isn’t relevant most of the time. It’s more about how attached they are to their parents.”

Eyes light up

Butch Plikerd, who introduced himself as “Kris Kringle,” called himself a “Santa Claus Helper.” He said he dons the red suit and greets children and their families as Santa at private parties, Syracuse’s Santa Comes to Town and at Concord Mall this year.

“I really like watching their eyes light up, and when they tell me what they really want for Christmas,” he said. “I also like hearing from the ones who don’t have much, but don’t want anything but to come see Santa. I feel bad for them (Judy Roberts and her husband, Bruce) when children come by and the parents don’t buy photos, but Santa Claus isn’t just for the rich.”

Plikerd is what’s known as a “real-beard Santa,” meaning that snowy white beard on his chin is 100 percent real. He said he has gone through his share of experiences, from bodily fluids to beard-pulling, but he loves portraying Santa Claus.

“One of the most sentimental things I remember was when a little girl got on my lap and asked for her brother to get better,” Plikerd said.

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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