“Where’s Santa?” This holiday season, the Berea Parks and Recreation Department will have the answer to that question next Monday through Wednesday as Santa Claus makes his pre-Christmas rounds in Berea. The schedule for Santa’s visits are as follows:
Monday, Dec. 11:
3 – 3:45 p.m. Peoples Bank, 419 Chestnut Street;
4 – 4:45 p.m. Berea Tourism, 201 N. Broadway;
5 – 5:45 p.m. Mario’s Pizza, 636 Chestnut Street;
6 – 6:45 p.m. Tractor Supply, 304 Cooper Drive;
Tuesday. Dec. 12
3 – 3:45 p.m. Berea Utilities, 200 Harrison Road;
4 – 4:45 p.m. Park Community, 501 Walnut Meadow Road;
5 – 5:45 p.m. Subway, U.S. 25 N.;
6 – 6:45 p.m. Ace Hardware, 292 Mini Mall Drive.
Wednesday, Dec. 13
3-3:45 p.m. Jones Family Dentistry, 201 Pauline Drive;
4-5:45 p.m. Acton Folk Center, 212 Jefferson Street;
6-6:45 p.m. Fitness 24/7, 501 Mt. Vernon Road.
The events are free. Berea’s beloved Santa Claus, Norman Dean Jr., is featured at the holiday gatherings, along with his wife, Jean Dean, who plays Mrs. Claus.
Dean, 67, took up the role of Santa about 48 years ago, following in the footsteps of his father. “Dad was a Santa Claus for the fire department here in Berea, and when he got to the point that he didn’t want to do it anymore, he gave me the suit and said ‘You will now be the official Santa,’” Dean laughed.
Now Dean happily plays the role every December, visiting schools, churches, hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants, stores, and doing in-house visits. It makes for a busy December, but Dean says it’s worth it. “I love the children, and playing the part of Santa makes me feel really good. I love seeing the smiles and the joy in their eyes,” Dean said.
Despite today’s fast-paced and commercialized holiday season, Dean said he never forgets to emphasize one important point in his moments with children. “On every visit that we do, I have always stressed with the children what the true meaning of Christmas is. I’ll ask them what they think Christmas means. Sometimes they’ll say, ‘It’s the toys from you.’ I’ll tell them that the true meaning of Christmas is about the birth of Jesus,” said Dean.
Meanwhile, Jean Dean has been playing the role of Mrs. Claus for about 13 years, and Norm credits Jean with being especially good at putting children at ease. “I like taking her with me because some of the children are afraid of Santa. Ninety-eight percent of the time, she can break the ice long enough to have them either sit on Santa’s knee, or stand beside Santa to get a picture,” Dean said.
Dean has also enjoyed the honor of being the official Santa for the annual Berea Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade for the last 32 years, a tradition he and Mrs. Claus happily share even when December temperatures turn frigid at parade time.
While Dean hears a lot of Christmas wishes, especially from children, he has a Christmas wish of his own: “I think my biggest wish right now is for peace on Earth,” Dean said. “To end the wars and fighting, and to have people uniting with each other, making peace on Earth.”