ALLIANCE — Santa Claus is everywhere in the weeks before Christmas. Children are more than willing to stand in line for an opportunity to whisper their wishes in his ear. Santa is best known for delivering presents, something Mark Lickliter has taken to heart.
The Alliance resident, with a tidy white beard, began appearing as Santa five years ago. This season is his third as the “Real Claus.” With Amber McElroy taking photos as children sit on his lap, all free-will donations are donated to local families. This weekend they will be at Kmart 11 a.m.-2 p.m. today, Dec. 17, and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18. Assisting are elves Dana, his daughter, and Janine Snobl.
The first year they donated 13 presents to Santa’s Helpers. Last year they helped seven children and donated $150 worth of toys to Santa’s Helpers. This year they have received $416 in donations so far and plan to buy presents locally for 13-15 children. Families in Alliance and the surrounding area are nominated for a visit from Santa.
Lickliter will deliver the presents in full Santa attire at a local milk and cookies night for the nominated families no later than Dec. 23.
If area residents see a Santa in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there is a good chance it’s Lickliter. He is not particular about age, with youth as old as 15 receiving gifts. He recalled the youngest to visit his lap — a three-day-old baby.
“It’s all about the kids,” he said. “You have to make the kids smile.”