Meadville Tribune


December 24, 2012

Santa walks among us


MEADVILLE — “One day, after a while of this, I went up on the bridge and the captain says (Eldridge raises his voice with an authoritative tone), ‘Eldridge, go down and shave off that beard, and THAT’S AN ORDER!’ ”

So he shaved — end of story.

Well, not entirely the end. Before he shaved he had a picture taken.

Years later, his wife, Mary, saw the photo and became very intrigued.

“After seeing that picture, she kept bugging me to grow a beard, because she thought I looked handsome,” Eldridge said. He was working as a bus driver for school children by then and he didn’t want to show up disheveled and agreed to start growing once school was out. “I’ll grow one for the summer, but I’ll shave it off in September.” Mary got her wish.

When September rolled around he told her it was coming off.

“She said, ‘Oh dear, please keep it at least until New Year’s.’ Well, it takes two to make a marriage,” Eldridge said, so he didn’t shave. “The longer I let it grow the whiter it became.”

The whiter it became the more like Santa he looked.

Then it began. He started getting requests to play Santa. Eldridge was reluctant.

“I don’t know how to play Santa,” he’d tell them, “its not my role.”

He finally broke down after many, many requests.

The first time he did it was for preschoolers and he rented a suit that Mary had to wash beforehand because it was so dirty and smelly. Mary then made him his own suit. A few years went by and he would only play Santa for friends.

Martha Miller, who was the head of the Chamber of Commerce at the time, approached Eldridge with an idea. Santa (Eldridge) could go around town to area businesses to cheer up people during the holidays.

Text Only
Business Marquee
AP Video
Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide