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Mobile Santa spreads holiday cheer in downtown Oklahoma City

Sonic Segway Santa, a mobile version of St. Nick, is an official part of Downtown in December, a monthlong holiday extravaganza with attractions ranging from snow tubing and zip lining to holiday light displays and free Water Taxi rides.
by Brandy McDonnell Published: December 22, 2013

Sam Brown's little face split into an enchanted smile as Santa Claus zipped up to him with a jolly “merry Christmas!”

When the bearded harbinger of holiday joy offered the 3-year-old a peppermint, the boy's smile spread into a full-blown grin.

Whether it was the sight of St. Nick in the flesh or his Segway two-wheeled scooter, Sam's little sister, Nora Brown, 1, was less charmed, immediately reaching for her father, Rob. She didn't cry but regarded Santa solemnly as her dad accepted a mint on her behalf.

“It was her first encounter with Santa Claus,” Rob Brown said, adding they were surprised to find Kriss Kringle hanging around the Devon Ice Rink on Tuesday night “on a Segway. That was the surprising part.”

“I thought it was cool that there were some interesting characters out,” added the Oklahoma City resident. “There's so much that attracts people to the Myriad Gardens now and to downtown, whereas several years ago nobody even wanted to come here at night. But it feels very safe and it's active. And it's just fun.”

Like the Devon Ice Rink, the Sonic Segway Santa is an official part of Downtown in December, a monthlong holiday extravaganza with attractions ranging from snow tubing and zip lining to holiday light displays and free Water Taxi rides. The upwardly mobile Father Christmas shows up at Downtown in December attractions, at lunchtime hot spots, at Thunder games and anywhere else a crowd might gather during the month of December.

“I think it adds a little bit of a surprise to Downtown in December. With the other events, there are set dates and hours. But with Sonic Segway Santa, you never know where he'll be and when he'll pop up, so I think that makes it extra exciting,” said Gentry McKeown, communications coordinator for Downtown Oklahoma City Inc.

“When people see Segway Santa going down the street, they literally do a double take; they'll pull out their cellphones. They'll chase him down to go get a coupon for free food or a picture with him. It's just sort of an unexpected surprise.”

Santa smiles

Ricky Smith, one of the two men playing Sonic Segway Santa this season, got all those reactions and more while cruising the Lower Bricktown Plaza on a recent sunny afternoon. Cars passing by honked and their passengers waved, while pedestrians accepted his gifts of Sonic peppermints and coupons. Teenagers tried to act cool, but some gave into the childlike urge to get their picture taken with Santa. Firefighters on lunch break shook his hands, and a couple of tourists said “merry Christmas” and then asked for directions to Kevin Durant's new restaurant.

“Who else would know but Santa?” Smith quipped. “What kind of job would you have where everybody that sees you smiles at you? I have a great time.”

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by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1...
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