Santa, local artist teaming up to spread cheer and ‘Santa-Grams’ across Lawrence this holiday season

photo by: Contributed Photos

At left, Ric Averill sings and plays his banjo from atop his Stage(S)Truck. Santa Claus is pictured at right.

Though Santa won’t need to be rescued from the top of Weaver’s Department Store this year, people will still have numerous opportunities to catch a glimpse of Old Saint Nick this holiday season.

The first three Saturdays of December, Santa will make two appearances each day with local entertainer Ric Averill for holiday songs and socially distanced photos. The events, called “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” are being sponsored by T-Mobile, and the Lawrence Arts Center teamed up with Downtown Lawrence Inc. and Lawrence Parks & Recreation to make the free events a possibility.

“This is our attempt at bringing Santa to the people,” said Elizabeth Sullivan, director of performing arts for the Lawrence Arts Center. The idea originated after the Santa Rescue had to be canceled because of COVID-19 restrictions.

All performances will be outdoors and located in different parts of the city. Guests will be required to wear masks and maintain at least 12 feet between other groups and the performers.

Averill will provide holiday music and stories during each event. He said people can expect to hear favorite songs such as “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” He will perform from atop his new stage truck, which has been decked out in garland, poinsettias, pine cones and more.

photo by: Ric Averill

Ric Averill’s Stage(S)Truck has been made merry and festive for the holiday season.

At the events, people can either take a socially distanced photo with Santa, who will be on the top of the stage truck, or they can take a photo with a life-sized cardboard cutout of Santa.

In a phone call with the Journal-World, Santa said to tell the kids of Douglas County he’s sorry he cannot be in Weaver’s Department Store this holiday season for photos. But any kids who want to turn in their lists and letters to Santa can still drop them off at the store, Santa said.

Santa said he’s been working year-round to get prepared for this holiday season, and he said that the first letter of the season is what really gets him ready.

“The first letter is very special and it makes me want to work harder and be ready,” he said.

Here’s the lineup for the free “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” events:

Saturday, Dec. 5: 10 a.m. at Union Pacific Depot and 2 p.m. at South Park

Saturday, Dec. 12: 10 a.m. at the East Lawrence Recreation Center and 2 p.m. at Broken Arrow Park

Saturday, Dec. 19: 10 a.m. at Centennial Park and 2 p.m. at Quail Run Park

In addition to the free events, Santa and Averill will also be available for paid Santa-Gram appearances at individual homes or businesses between Nov. 28 and Dec. 19. Depending on the size of the group, the Santa-Grams will cost between $100 and $500 for a 30-minute appearance with photo opportunities. The money will go to support performing arts at the Lawrence Arts Center. To order a Santa-Gram or to get more information, connect Sullivan at


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