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Everyone loves Santa Clause, June Headrick is no exception

Features Editor

Everyone loves Santa Claus, but June Headrick really took a shine to the man in the red suit.

The first time she saw Santa Claus, she knew she wanted to sit on his knee. She did and she’s been at his side for a "long, long time."

She married Santa and became Mrs. Claus, a title she wears proudly.

Santa and Mrs. Claus don’t have any children of their own, so "all of the children in the world belong to us," Mrs. Claus said, with a broad smile.

June Headrick probably would have picked Bob Headrick out of a crowd even if he had not been "suited up" when they met. However, she admits that he did look very handsome in red.

Bob had so much fun playing Santa that his wife decided it was time for her to join the jolly ol’ Bob on the Santa circuit and she’s having a great time helping Santa spread Christmas cheer.

"Because parents are so busy these days making a living and taking care of their families, it’s hard for them to do some of the extra special things," she said. "So, we try to pick up some of the extras at holiday time."

The "extras’ are most often a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, that brings some magic into a little one’s world and a brightness to his or her eyes, Mrs. Headrick said. "Or a homemade cookie or two or ‘resources’ to meet certain needs."

"We especially like to play Santa and Mrs. Claus for children who have special needs," she said. "We go every year to the Methodist Children’s Home in Selma. It’s very rewarding to be able to bring some joy into the lives of children who don’t have families around to take care of them."

The Headricks play the popular couple from the North Pole at different events and parties, but primarily for charitable organizations.

"Most of the children at the parties are referred by the Department of Human Resources and they are some of the sweetest children in the world," she said. "They are usually more interested in Santa than they are in what they want him to bring them for Christmas. They are excited about seeing Santa and want to touch him to see if he’s real. Sometimes they pull his whiskers and Santa, says ‘Ouch!’ and it shocks them. They’ll poke his tummy to see if it’s a pillow and one little boy even poked on his shoes trying to find his toes."

Bob and June are one of the few couples on the Santa circuit. Of course, Santa is the main attraction for children, but Mrs. Claus has found her niche as the softer side of Santa.

"Some children, especially the very young ones, are afraid of Santa Claus and won’t come near him," June said. "The scream and cry, but parents will be insistent that they have their picture taken with Santa. Having their child’s picture with Santa seems to be very important to some parents."

For some reason she can’t explain, June said the children aren’t fearful of Mrs. Claus.

"Many times they will come and sit in my lap," she said."I’ll talk to them and give them a cookie and, usually we can slip them over on Santa’s lap or, at least, get them

close enough for a picture."

Most of the time Santa can handle the requests that come his way, but sometimes he slips a request over to Mrs. Claus.

"Each year there is a ‘in’ toy that children want," Mrs. Claus said. "This year, as always, little girls want a Barbie doll, but the Shoo-Shoo Baby is topping Barbie. And, this year, little boys are asking for motorcycles. I don’t know why but that’s the craze. But, when the really tough request comes, Santa usually asks for help in responding to them."

The "tough" request are those related to family – usually wanting daddy to come home.

"How can Santa grant a wish like that?" June asked. "One of the hardest requests we’ve gotten this year was from a little boy in Montgomery whose dad is in the military and is being transferred. The little boy said he didn’t want to leave his friends, so all he wanted for Christmas was for his dad not to be transferred. We couldn’t promise him that, but I did tell him that he has friends there, too, but he just hasn’t met them yet. He said his mom told him the same thing. I think he left a little better satisfied."

June said with her husband’s white beard and white hair, he is often recognized as Santa Claus all during the year.

"Children always come up to him and ask, ‘Are you the real Santa Claus?’ and their moms tell them not to bother the man, but Bob doesn’t mind," June said. "Sometimes we are in a store and I’ll slip around and tell little children that Santa Claus is in the store shopping. I love to see the excitement and happiness on their face when they see the ‘real’ Santa Claus.

June said a strange thing happens to her "Santa" every year just before Christmas.

"His beard and hair seem to get whiter and whiter and his shirts all begin to look red," she said. "The closer to Christmas the whiter and redder he becomes. As soon as Christmas is over, his beard and hair don’t seem as white and his shirts aren’t red anymore. That’s strange isn’t it. It makes you wonder just who is the real Santa Claus."