A St. Simons Island Christmas Story

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We don’t know when exactly he’ll arrive, we don’t know if he’ll arrive by boat, or if he’ll come by air, but when he gets here Santa will ride the old-fashioned fire engine as his “sleigh” from one end of St. Simons Island to the other. 

Santa’s parade on Christmas Eve is a tradition that goes back as far as I can remember.  The first time I saw Santa Claus arrive on St. Simons was Christmas Eve 1965.  My mother had taken my brother David and me to the Pier to ride the train, the ferris wheel and play in Neptune Park with the suggestion that we just might see Santa Claus as he arrived from the North Pole.


Santa arrives at the St. Simons Pier

As we played in front of the old St. Simons Casino, there came a commotion from the Pier, and I remember everyone running to see what it was.  There on the end of the pier, we saw Santa Claus emerge from a boat and I vividly remember his larger-than-life red suit and white beard.  As a five-year-old, to me, it was “magical”. I excitedly believed that Santa was bringing me something very special that night!  My mother reminded me that Santa only visits one’s house if everyone is sleeping, so after all the excitement of watching Santa’s procession of fire trucks and police cars, we hurriedly returned to our home on Beachview Drive to prepare for Santa’s visit.   David and I put on our pajamas and then helped Mom make milk and cookies. After we left a plate for Santa, we scurried into our bunk beds.  Before we turned the lights out, Mom read us the story of the birth of Christ and then kissed us good night.

Santa on his Fire Engine Sleigh 

More than 50 years later, it is just as exciting today as it was back then.  After Christmas Eve church services and warm family dinners, “kids from 1 to 92” all over St. Simons come out and line the roadsides to cheer on Santa’s parade. My family has been among them over the last decade with our children, and most recently, we were blessed to enjoy the spectacle anew with our 3-year-old granddaughter.  Along with live nativity scenes, light-draped oak trees, and sacred candlelight services – experiencing our children’s excitement about Santa on St. Simons is a treasured memory now extending several generations in my family. 

My Grandaughter Finley 


Yet perhaps even more treasured to me is the season that my wife and I seriously began teaching our children the true meaning of Christmas. For as sad as we may have been for our growing kids to lose the magic of Christmas, there has been a much deeper sense of joy in knowing that our children would experience the miracle of Christmas.  The blessing of imparting the truth of God’s Son coming to be our Savior has been the most important and fulfilling assignment we’ve had as parents.  Making Jesus the Lord of our home and the center of our lives is a year-round gift that cannot be wrapped and placed under a tree but has an infinitely greater impact on us and on them. 


Robert, Corbin, Jacob, Isaac, Amanda and Johnathan


I’m very thankful for my parents' and grandparents' faith and for imparting to me the true meaning of Christmas.  Now more than ever, all of us adults have the opportunity to give the next generation a gift that “keeps on giving” long after Christmas morning.  Fostering their relationship with Jesus gifts them eternal life with our Heavenly Father, and an earthly lifetime abiding in His love, grace, joy, and counsel.

My wife and I pray that your families receive the gift of Jesus Christ fully into your hearts and homes this season and that you share that gift with your children, loved ones, friends, and community.  Blessings and peace to you all –