By day, Dale Hastings is the store room supervisor at Watson Clinic, but on his off hours during the holiday season, he assumes an entirely different identity.
“It happened six years ago,” Dale recalls. “I was walking with my wife through a shopping mall and I was approached by a five year old girl who mistook my bearded face for Santa.”
That inspired a tradition in Dale’s life that continues to this day. Every holiday, he pulls an elaborately authentic red, white and black costume from his closet and takes on a persona beloved the world over.
“There’s a lot of work and responsibility attached to being Santa,” Dale admits. In preparation for the character, Dale approached the role with all the intensity and focus of a highly-trained actor. He even spoke to others who had made a living playing Santa. But Dale’s ultimate purpose in playing Jolly Old Saint Nick was not an extra paycheck.
“Lots of parents don’t have the money to spend $50 so their child can take a photo with Santa,” he says. “I want to give children the magic I felt when I was growing up.”
That’s why Dale spends every holiday season travelling in full Santa costume to daycare centers, Christmas parties, schools and even his own booth at the Silvermoon Flea Market every Sunday. His services are offered free of charge for families who otherwise could not afford it. Dale’s ultimate reward lies in the excitement and joy he receives from the children he serves, and it’s that warm feeling of giving that has infused his life with a greater sense of meaning and purpose.
“Even after I retire, I’ll commit myself to this for the rest of my life.”