MEADVILLE — Light-up night was born.
Tonight, Eldridge will don his red and white suit to continue the tradition when he’ll walk into the gazebo in Diamond Park to officially turn on the holiday lights in the city. He’ll then lead a parade down Chestnut Street followed by hundreds of children and adults. Many of the adults will bring their kids because their parents brought them to see Eldridge years ago.
He will then spend the next month being Santa whenever he can.
“It’s a beautiful life!” says Eldridge as recalls his years of being Santa.
It is hard to say who gets more enjoyment from Eldridge’s portrayal of Santa — Eldridge or the people he encounters through the holiday season. But one thing is for sure, his growing a beard that he doesn’t enjoy having for eight months out of every year is truly a sacrifice and his gift to God and the people of Meadville.
To say he isn’t the real Santa ... well, that would be just a lie.
Richard Sayer, award-winning Meadville Tribune photojournalist, also writes occasional feature stories to accompany major photo assignments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org