Photography courtesy of the Vickery Place Neighborhood Association

When former Dallas Morning News writer Larry Grove saw an ad for a used sleigh and eight reindeer, he had a hunch that Santa had left the North Pole.

He made the trip to Bonita Avenue, where Santa had placed a “For Sale” sign in his sleigh.

But the real Santa wasn’t quitting — just one of his helpers, Grove assured readers in a 1960 article for the Morning News.

Every December for 15 years, Norwegian-born artist H.M. Elgin set aside his painter’s smock from his day job as an artist, donned a red suit and hitched his team of papier-mache reindeer.

The tradition began in 1945 when Elgin put on the Santa suit to spread Christmas cheer at his paint shop on Greenville Avenue. The role suited him, and employees at the places he worked would bring him gifts to distribute to children in West Dallas.

“That loving spirit of the little ones — so pure and innocent — when they put their arms around you, you want to help them build a dream,” Elgin told Grove.

But even Santa gets tired.

“It’s time somebody else had some of the fun I’ve been having,” Elgin said.


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