Albert Crumb Jr. enjoys putting smiles on kids' faces
Albert Crumb Jr. started dressing up as Santa when his son — who is now 31 — was just a toddler.
The 51-year-old electrician has climbed back into the suit many times over the years to entertain family members at Christmastime.
But five years ago, in deciding to dress up as Santa once again for the young grandson of a neighbour, Albert had what he refers to as a brainwave.
He built a wooden decoration to attach to his ATV to make it look like a sleigh, and travelled door-to-door on the Saturday before Christmas to hand out treat bags to kids in his Coniston neighbourhood.
The tradition has escalated over the years, to the point that Albert expected to hand out about 70 bags filled with treats such as candy canes and Rice Krispie squares over about two hours Dec. 21.
Those who received a visit from Santa last year “are telling their friends, and they're telling their friends, who are telling their friends,” Albert said.
Santa's sleigh has also gotten more sophisticated. It now involves two ATVs tethered together – one with Santa's sleigh, driven by Albert, and another decorated with reindeer, driven by a family friend.
The setup also involves Christmas music and lights powered by a generator strapped to the back of one of the ATVs.
If Albert is Santa, his wife Linda — who spends many hours preparing treat bags each year — is Mrs. Claus. When asked how much the couple spend on the treat bags, Linda said she doesn't even look at the cost.
Once Linda helps her husband dress up for Santa's night on the town, she runs down the street so she can be with their four-year-old granddaughter, Kira, when Santa arrives.
The children are very excited to meet Santa, Albert said.
He recalls one little girl wearing a housecoat running through knee-deep snow in her front yard because she was afraid he was going to leave without getting to meet him.
Some parents take their kids' pictures with Santa, while others secretly pass him presents to give to their children so they can receive a gift from Santa himself.
“The look on the faces when I'm going down that street and they walk out, it's priceless,” Albert said.
This is the first in a new series we're calling Neighbourhood Heroes. Do you know someone who brightens other people's lives, but never asks for nor receives recognition? Email lifestyle reporter Heidi Ulrichsen at [email protected].