This Santa is spreading cheer from 18 years

Christmas season, everyone would wish for a Santa to walk up to them and hand them a toffee that usually eludes them in a crowd. In Mangaluru, for the past 18 year.

Published: 24th December 2017 02:42 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th December 2017 10:00 AM   |  A+A-

Vincent Menezes with college students at St Aloysius College | Rajesh Shetty Ballalbagh

Express News Service

MANGALURU:  During Christmas season, everyone would wish for a Santa to walk up to them and hand them a toffee that usually eludesthem in a crowd. In Mangaluru, for the past 18 years, a Santa has been making this dream come true for many. His sleigh is his scooter decked with balloons and treats. He travels over 400 km each season to visit schools, destitute homes and hospitals to share the joy of Christmas. He not only hands over toffees, but also a message, which he says is the essence of Christmas. “My message is love your enemies and forgive them. There are no real enemies,” says Vincent Menezes, the local Santa from Kokkada, Beltangady. 

Vincent  rides around the town and greets passers-by for Christmas and salutes beggars. “I visited Ashrams including the one at Bejai,” he said. He spends two days in the city each year andcovers Puttur, Beltangady and Bantwal taluks in the district. His wife Christine said, “This year, he was called for a few programmes at schools too. He  fixes his own scooter andrides off to distribute cakes, chocolates at orphanages and schools. He visited children at Wenlock Hospital too.”

Christine, his pillar of strength during this journey, helps him dress up, he says. 
“She irons the costume and keeps it ready for me. Once Christmas is done, she puts away the suit carefully. All I have to do is  wear it the next year,” he said.Vincent has been on his scooter as Santa during Christmas for 18 years now. “I take care of my  own expenses. This year though, I have two sponsors,” he added. Expenses, despite having sponsors, come up to `25,000, says his wife. An agriculturist, Vincent dedicates the month towards spreading love. 

“I only ride around till the Sun is up. After that people can’t see me,” he says and adds with a smile that there has not been a day he has missed going home in Kokkada village in Belthangady taluk. Vincent reveals he is a compere in his village. His wife adds he has been a theatre artist for a very long time. He is an artist, writes dramas, is a singer and a part of the choir. A multi-faceted personality, Vincent says there are challenges. “Drunk people come up to me, hold my collar and ask how much money I have made and threaten me to give it to them,” he says. “People ask me if  there are expenses involved, then why do it. But I think this is the only way I can spread the Christmas message,” he says. 

The only real problem he has, he says is his Santa beard. 
“The one thing that I’m still not used to in all these 18 years is the beard. It just doesn’t stick,” he smiles as he tugs his long white Santa beard, before resuming his journey to his next venue - Karavali Utsava.



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