By Angela Higginbotham
Kevin Mason, also known as Santa Kevin, grew up in Minnesota. He is a United States Navy Veteran. Much of his career was spent in San Diego, Calif., a post he took so that he could visit with his beloved grandmother on Sundays, as she lived nearby. Mason also served in Norfolk, Va. and NAS Jax Cecil Field. He retired in 2003 and enjoys living in the Southcreek subdivision of St. Johns.
Mason never had children of his own, but thrives on bringing smiles to so many others as he plays the role of Santa each year at San Juan Del Rio Catholic Church. He also enjoys doing other volunteer work around the parish and the community.
1) What do you enjoy most about living in St. Johns?
I have 1.1 acres of breathing room. I’m also close to the parish.
2) How did your Santa journey come about?
The parish needed me to fill in and now, I’ve been doing it for five years. There are 3000 families in the parish, so it’s a joy to see the Breakfast with Santa event grow year after year. The first year we had 50 kids and it’s grown each year. Last year we had 150 and I’m looking for 200 this year. Last year they had to run out and buy more food to prepare.
3) What do you enjoy most about playing the role of Santa?
The kids are so precious and it brings so much joy to my heart to have them believe as long as they can. Just seeing the twinkle in their eyes brings everything together for me. Kids are so smart these days. I had two little boys intensely looking at my beard and I said, “You want to see if it’s real don’t you?” Their faces lit up when they saw the beard actually pull away from my face. There is no downside for me in this. The kids are great.
4) What’s the upkeep like for transforming into Santa each year?
I grew my beard out the first year. When the holidays approach, I spend about three hours getting it bleached and then have additional maintenance to make it even more white. I have a new suit that was tailor-made for me and I love it. The bleaching of my hair is a process and it smells bad for a while, but it’s worth it.
5) What do you enjoy doing outside of your volunteer work?
I stay busy in the church. I enjoy restoring old cars. I have four cars that I’m restoring at the moment, including a 1932 Ford my dad bought many years ago. I also enjoy woodworking.
Photos courtesy Kevin Mason
“Santa” Kevin Mason