It all started in the summer of the year 2000. My wife, Terri, was a teacher for a Preschool Program. She asked me if I would be Santa for their Christmas Program that year. Shortly after that, I wondered if I could grow a beard, since I hadn’t tried it before. Terri and I talked about it, and I gave it a try. To our surprise, it grew out white, and even with a short beard, people started recognizing me as “Santa.”
Being Santa and Mrs. Claus to thousands of Oklahoma children for the past twenty years has been a wonderful experience for us. They are so innocent, and deserve all the support they can get during their young lives while battling enormous challenges.
Candy Cane Lane will be a parkway leading to, around, and exiting “Candy Cane Village.” During the Crhistmas Season (November & December) it will be lined with hundreds of displays lighted by millions of lights, including several animated Christmas displays. Our plan includes a display arrangement that is unlike anything currently being used.
John was born in St Joseph, MO, and grew up in a business atmosphere when his father managed a grocery store. He learned the importance of customer service at an early age. As a Boy Scout, he obtained the rank of Life-Scout, earned nearly 25 merit-badges and the coveted “God and Country Badge.” During high school, his family purchase a do-nut shop which he managed and operated due to a lengthy illness of his father. John enlisted in the US Air Force, where he gained extensive experience and education in management, supervision, training, and courseware development. During that 24 year career he was awarded more than 20 medals and ribbons. In addition, he earned an associates degree in Logistics Management, and a B.S. degree in Work Force Training. He served during the Viet Nam War era and the Persian Gulf War.
He is married to his loving wife, Terri, and they have a son who is currently serving in the Navy.
Terri worked at Southwest Technology Center as a Small Business and Corporate Training Facilitator. She trained personnel in customer service with a specialty to service for clientele with disabilities in the work place, as well as the general public, through awareness of surroundings and individual sensibilities. Terri has worked for Great Plains Improvement Foundation as a Rehabilitation Training Specialist where individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities learned the tasks of daily living to eventually merge into independent living in the community. As a Level 3 Sign Language Instructor and Interpreter she assisted in speech pathology training to hearing impaired clients. She also conducted client medication training. Terri is a trained and certified hospice volunteer. Terri’s passion as Mrs. Claus is storytelling and singing with the children she and Santa visit. She has extensive training and work experience in early childhood education.
Santa goes by 21st Century Santa because his career began during the 2000 Christmas season. He is 100% natural, and uses all the talents the Good Lord has given him. He strives to present the proper image to the children he serves and does not smoke or drink alcohol. Santa believes very deeply in the real reason for the Christmas season, and feels very privileged to be given the opportunity to participate in this special season. He shows his respect for the Christ Child in his Santa persona by wearing the gifts given to Jesus at his birth – Frankincense, Myrrh, and a gold cross – along with special suite adornments. He has researched extensively the life of St. Nicholas, and greatly respects his character and accomplishments. Santa has visited with children with numerous challenges and situations.
Rick brings a variety of management and marketing experience. He has worked as a store manager, and later as a salesman in the Christian bookselling industry, before starting his own photography business. He owned and operated a portrait studio for 17 years. He approached John about being “Santa” for a portrait project and was delighted when Terri said, “That’s what he does!” A friendship developed and Rick and his wife, Trish, began to catch the vision for 21st Century Santa and Candy Cane Village. A bout with cancer pushed Rick to retire and turn his photography business over to his daughter. Then, after working for a major retail chain for several years in sales and management, he was able to fully retire in 2018. He has authored a book, blogs, and enjoys several hobbies.
Kathy is retired after more than 30 years of service with the US Postal Service where she was a Rural Carrier, Window Clerk, and support person. Kathy has been a Stephen Minister, which is a one-on-one confidential listening ministry for the hurting, for 10 years. She is active in the Pioneer Country Emmaus Community, a spiritual retreat helping you learn to listen more closely to God’s direction for your life journey.
Gayla is a a retired Registered Nurse, having worked in healthcare for over thirty years. After retirement she achieved her Master Gardener certification from Oklahoma State University, and gardens organically. She is also involved in bee and butterfly habitat restoration. She loves to minister to children by using a variety of animals. She has a petting zoo, and looks forward to continuing this ministry at Candy Cane Village. Gayla is an experienced youth and children’s church leader, Sunday school teacher, kid’s camp director and CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer. Gayla and her husband, Terry Thompson, operate a horse drawn carriage business.
Debbie currently works at Hobby Lobby Warehouse, where she has been employed for 6 years. While caring for her late husband, she worked as a substitute teacher for Mustang schools. Debbie has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, is CASA trained and Foster Care certified. She has 3 grown children and 7 grandchildren. She resides in Yukon with her husband.
Did you know?
St. Francis of Assisi is credited with coming up with the Christmas manger scene in 1223!
Thomas of Celano said in his biography of St. Francis that he wanted to “make a memorial of that Child who was born in Bethlehem, and in some sort behold with bodily eyes His infant hardships; how He lay in a manger on the hay, with the ox and ass standing by.”
So, with the help of Giovanni Vellita, Francis built a stable in a village near Rome, and created a live nativity, using a wax doll for baby Jesus, live cows, sheep and a donkey, and people dressed as Mary, Joseph and the shepherds.
We know the song, “the first noel the angels did say….” But what did they say? What’s a noel?
Actually, there are several answers.
The French version of “Merry Christmas” is “Joyeux Noel.” Some say it is a short version of “les bonnes nouvelles,” meaning “the good news.”
However, a “noel” is also a word for a carol. Noels have been sung for centuries.
Some dictionaries say the French noel actually comes from the Latin natalis, meaning birth.
So was the angels’ first noel an announcement of good news, a birth announcement, or the first carol? Which do you prefer?