Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Kentucky Santa is excited to be in Las Cruces over the holidays

LAS CRUCES – “Merry Christmas, Las Cruces!”

The Mesilla Valley Mall has a returning guest this season: Santa Claus, who comes all the way from the North Pole – also known as Lexington, Kentucky.

Greg Scarboro of Lexington has been a professional Santa at Cherry Hill Photo for six years, spending time in California and Michigan before heading south to Las Cruces. He first came to Mesilla Valley Mall in 2019. His experiences in southern New Mexico made a lasting impression on him.

“I was here for about two or three weeks and I was starting to notice that no one was honking the horn, no one was in a hurry, no one was worried … and all the kids were well behaved,” Scarboro said. “I was inspired somehow. When I left, I had this warm, fuzzy feeling like, ‘This is it, this is it.’ “

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Taking on the role of “Jolly Old St. Nicholas” seems to be a Scarboro family trait.

Frankie Lucero, 3, will meet Santa Claus at the Mesilla Valley Mall in Las Cruces on Friday, December 3, 2021.

He stated that when he was little he was a Boy Scout and his father was the Boy Scout Master. During the Christmas season, her group visited nursing homes and sang carols to residents while his father dressed up as Santa Claus. The reactions of the residents and the short transport back to childhood stayed with him, said Scarboro.

Later, when he was older and working, Scarboro said he was always chosen to dress up as Santa Claus at office Christmas parties and other gatherings. It wasn’t until his daughter was grown up and ready to graduate from the University of Kentucky that he granted his wish to put on the red suit and hat for a job.

“I think I just had a knack for it,” said Scarboro.

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He applied for a job, grew his beard, and attended Santa Claus School before being sent away to get the Christmas spirit up. Scarboro said he spent several good years in Sherman Oaks, California during the holiday season before being sent to Auburn Hills, Michigan. But the dreary atmosphere took its toll. When he got the chance to get to Las Cruces, he jumped.

The man who preceded Scarboro had been at the Mesilla Valley Mall for nearly a decade before he died. Cherry Hill Photo sent Scarboro to Las Cruces in November 2019, and what he saw of the community lifted his spirits.

“I think (Las Crucens) might take it for granted,” Scarboro said of the community’s attitude and dealings with others.

Aiden Nájera, 2, will meet Santa Claus at the Mesilla Valley Mall in Las Cruces on Friday, December 3, 2021.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Scarboro said the company has chosen to keep its Santa Clauses near their home in 2020. Scarboro stayed in Lexington while an Albuquerque Santa Claus took over the Las Cruces mall. It was compulsory to wear a mask and contact between Santa Claus and the children was not allowed.

But now that vaccines are more prevalent and the company is allowing Santas to travel, Scarboro is back in town. He said he arrived in Las Cruces before Thanksgiving and started visiting and taking photos with children and others on Black Friday.

Scarboro described being Santa Claus as a roller coaster ride because he experiences funny and touching moments with visitors, but also “some of the saddest things you have ever seen”.

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“I already had one in Las Cruces this year. A little girl, all she wanted was a blanket. You know, you just want to reach under the table and give them one, ”Scarboro said, choking.

While in California, Scarboro said a man came up to him and said he had changed his life. A simple comment about being grateful for the family changed this man’s negative attitude towards his marriage and parenting.

John and Kelly Jacobs, along with their dogs Lacy and Diesel, will meet Santa Claus on Friday 3rd December 2021 at the Mesilla Valley Mall in Las Cruces.

“I try to tell people that they are grateful or nice to people,” he said. “There are a lot of people who need help – a lot of people – and you feel much better giving than you are taking. And you know that; everyone knows that. “

In collaboration with the Salvation Army, a tree to share will be set up in the shopping center near the Santa Claus exhibition. The children’s names, ages, heights and wishes are listed on paper decorations that are hung on the tree. People are encouraged to shop for these children and return the gift by December 15th.

Santa Claus will continue to perform in the mall until December 24th. Children, couples, and furry pets are all invited to take their pictures with Santa Claus.

On December 6, Sara and Nicholas Kern took their seven-month-old daughter Evelyn to take her first picture with the man in red. With a smile on her face and a “Santa Baby” outfit, Evelyn’s photos wander straight into the ornaments that her parents have ready.

And Becca Diaz, 4, waved to Santa Claus while she and her brother Dominic (7) waited in line for their turn on his lap.

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Scarboro encouraged visitors to drop by and visit earlier in the day so he could spend more time with each person. He’s also hoping New Mexico State University students stop by before they take their winter break.

On Christmas Day, Scarboro said he was planning to catch an early flight back to Kentucky. At home his beard is shaved off and grown back in the spring. And as long as he has a say, Las Crucens will see Scarboro as Santa for years until he decides to take off his suit and hat.

Leah Romero is the hip reporter for Las Cruces Sun-News and can be reached on Twitter at 575-418-3442, [email protected] or @rromero_leah.

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