The last time I saw Santa Claus, it was Christmas night 2006, and he was telling me about how disappointed he was with what seemed to be a diminished holiday spirit along the Bricktown Canal.
The Christmas lights had disappeared and while some Downtown in December events were still going strong, something seemed off. I was thrilled to see Santa again Sunday night, though I was a bit concerned that so close to his big night, he was simply out having fun.
I wasn't even sure it was him at first — a quick blur of red sped past me as I was walking along Sheridan Avenue. “Santa?!” I cried out. “Is that you?”
Indeed, the old man himself was cruising downtown on a Segway, and he was definitely back to being his cheery self.
He was thrilled at the return of Christmas cheer in Bricktown. The big tree was back where it belonged, overlooking a brightly lit Bricktown Canal. Earlier that day he had taken in a morning showing of “The Hobbit” (“excellent, but it needs an intermission,” he quipped), followed up with lunch at Earl's Rib Palace and some frames with the elves at Red Pin Bowling Alley. He showed off photos of himself snow tubing at the Brick.
Everywhere Santa looked, he saw people celebrating the holidays and enjoying their new downtown. It didn't take him long to realize that some Christmas wishes asked of him during my last encounter had come true: a downtown grocery. He waited on line as Native Roots Market clerks kept busy with last-minute requests for special spice mixes, fresh vegetables, meats and produce.
“Aren't you going to get behind preparing for Christmas Eve?” I asked.
Santa then let out a hearty laugh and flashed a red and green “North Pole Savings and Loan” credit card.
“This is the year I'm giving the elves a break, ho, ho, ho,” Santa explained. “My reindeer are hauling an eighteen-wheeler packed with bikes from Schlegal Bicycles. Did you know I was able to get just about every gift imaginable along Automobile Alley? At Rawhide we got some great jewelry, clothing and furniture, and the specialty gifts and house ware at Plenty Mercantile made Mrs. Claus very, very happy.”
Old Kriss Kringle's brows seemed to furl a bit — a confused look — as he mentioned his visit to Blue Water Divers. “They're selling scuba gear in downtown Oklahoma City,” he said rather abruptly.