A Colorado Santa looks back on the wishes he couldn’t grant

No amount of Christmas magic can bridge the divide between the world we want and the world as it is.

Kate Haggerty photographs Connor (left to right), Evelyn and Max with Santa. Christmas Eve at Union Station, 2016. (Kevin J.Beaty/Denverite)

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I’ll confess to being in a pensive mood this holiday season, so this profile in the Colorado Springs Gazette of a long-time area Santa who brought a new level of magical realism to the profession hit me hard.

“All these kids didn’t have nothing to eat,” Billy Gooch recalled of the first time he played Santa, which was nearly enough to end his career right there. “That’s all they wanted: something to eat.”

Gooch went back to playing Santa because, well, he needed the money, and he and his wife, Alma Gooch, ended up founding a company, Naturally Santa Inc., that promoted very believable Santas who could really bring the magic alive for children.

But no amount of Christmas magic can bridge the divide between the world we want and the world as it is.

The sad stories Billy encountered in his first go as Santa persisted through his career. Kids on his lap asked if he could bring divorced parents back together, or if he could bring a loved one back to life.

Read the whole thing here. It’s not all sad.

Erica Meltzer

Author: Erica Meltzer

Erica Meltzer covers government and politics. She's worked for newspapers in Colorado, Arizona and Illinois and once won a First Amendment Award by showing up in the wrong place at the wrong time. She served in the Peace Corps in Paraguay and can swear fluently in Guarani. She gets emotional about public libraries. Contact Erica Meltzer at 303-502-2802, emeltzer@denverite.com or @meltzere.