His first time in the suit was at Christmas in the Valley in Alexandria. He wasn’t supposed to be there, but the other Santa became ill and was unable to make an appearance that night. Since King had a white beard, and most of hair was white, he was asked to step in.
His hair is still not completely gray, so he dyes it white to match his beard.
“I wanted to match the rest of Santa’s appearance,” King said.
King stays busy trying to keep up with Santa during the holiday season. He rode on a fire truck during the city’s Christmas parade. Thursday night, he was back at Christmas in the Valley in Alexandria. On Friday, he visited the young adults at the Cerebral Palsy Center in Anniston and later spent some time with Head Start children in Anniston.
King said he knew the first time he wore the red suit he’d found something he wanted to do for many years to come.
“I just enjoyed it so much,” he said. “After that, other people asked me to do some things, and I just stayed with it.”
King said he enjoys donning the suit for organizations or individuals.
“I love it,” said King. “You can’t explain how much better it makes you feel to do something like that.”
King doesn’t like to see children afraid of him.
“Some are afraid, but by no means not all of them,” he said. “Every now and then you’ll have one who don’t want to sit in Santa’s lap. Usually, I tell the parents, I’ll hold them if they want me to, but I don’t want to hold a baby and make them cry because it’s going to always make them be afraid of Santa Claus.”
King said when time allows, he tries to play with the child and coax him into sitting in his lap. It doesn’t work every time, he said, but it makes for one happy Santa when it does.
King was born in Arab in Marshall County. He moved to Jacksonville in 1975. He worked at Anniston Army Depot 36 years. He was a welder there.
He and his wife, the former Wanda Newell, who works at Noble Bank in Anniston and is a Jacksonville native, have two sons and a daughter.
Justin and Brandi King live in Helena. Matthew and Danielle live in Anniston, and Alisha King lives in Jacksonville. The Kings have two grandchildren, Collins King and Max King.
King said Santa has one last thing he’d like to say.
“Merry Christmas to everyone.”
Contact Margaret at firstname.lastname@example.org.