Archive for Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lawrence man embraces Santa likeness ‘for the spirit of Christmas’

Lawrence resident Chris Hartman has been playing the part of Santa Claus for about 30 years. He has amassed a large collection of Santa memorabilia.

December 23, 2010

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Lawrence resident Chris Hartman sits in front of his home on West Ninth Street handing out toys to children passing after school. Hartman has been dressing up as Santa Claus for about 30 years.

Lawrence resident Chris Hartman sits in front of his home on West Ninth Street handing out toys to children passing after school. Hartman has been dressing up as Santa Claus for about 30 years.

Chris Hartman has a fairly simple rationale for why he has dressed up as Santa for the past 30 years: He looks a lot like good old Kriss Kringle.

“I have this body, this face,” the 50-year-old Lawrence man said, tugging at his white beard and patting his ample midsection. For good measure, he and his alter ego share a first name, Hartman adds.

Shortly after Thanksgiving Day, Hartman assumes his role as one of the Lawrence area’s Santas, making appearances around town. But like a method actor, Hartman maintains his Santa persona all day long throughout the holiday season. On a recent weekday, Hartman showed off his west Lawrence home and his “Santa room.”

“As you can see, they’re everywhere,” Hartman said, walking around the spare bedroom that houses more than 1,000 Santas and related Kriss Kringle memorabilia — everything from extra Santa suits to Harley-Davidson Santa hats. As he began dressing as Santa in the early 1980s, friends started giving him Santa stuff.

“It’s spilled out everywhere,” he said.

Hartman will soon hop into his sleigh — a door-less, red convertible Chrysler LeBaron — and head to an appearance. He’s got a few extra minutes, so he sits down on a chair in his yard and waves at drivers cruising down Ninth Street.

He makes a little money for some of his appearances, but clearly Hartman’s commitment to the role transcends mere financial gain.

“I do it for the spirit of Christmas,” Hartman said.

And for a smile.

“People are just ecstatic” when they see him, Hartman said. “Even people that seem grumpy.”

Comments

Tanya Spacek 4 years, 7 months ago

Chris is a wonderful guy! I'll never forget the year he saved Christmas for me and my two boys! He really is Santa.

acg 4 years, 7 months ago

Chris is a good friend of mine and a great guy! I've hired him to be Santa for many corporate events and he does a fantastic job. His Santa collection is mind-boggling, too. If anyone ever needs a Santa, I would highly suggest getting in touch with him.

5thgeneration 4 years, 7 months ago

I would second ACG's recommendation about hiring Chris as Santa. He just went out of his way to drive to my house on this miserable night to deliver Christmas gifts for my children. He IS the Spirit of Christmas. Thanks again, Chris!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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