Lewis and Nancy Headlee said they were kind of talked into being Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Pequot Lakes American Legion for Breakfast with Santa.
After the fact, though, they’ve all but penned it in for next year. Nancy has already searched online to buy Lewis his own costume beard. The two relished the experience.
Throughout the morning at the Legion on Saturday, Dec. 1, the two visited with around 50-60 children.
“We had a wonderful time. We wished there could have been more children there,” Nancy said.
The two Pequot Lakes residents consider themselves semi-retired.
Lewis, who grew up in Pequot Lakes, worked for Potlatch for 30 years. Since retirement, he has his own repair shop where he works on cars.
Nancy moved north from Brainerd around 10 years ago. She worked for the Brainerd Regional Human Services Center for more than 30 years. Soon, she plans to start work as an in-home senior care provider.
Because Lewis comes from a family of 11 children, with lots of nieces and nephews, he’s used to being around little kids and didn’t find the job of being Santa as very difficult at all.
It helped that his first visitor was his grandson.
Nancy, too, said she felt at ease being Mrs. Claus.
“He and I act so naturally together that for us to sit together was like being at home,” she said.
The one thing they decided beforehand was that they would not tell the kids they would get all the items on their lists. Some of those lists were lengthy, and the Headlees didn’t want any children to be disappointed come Christmas morning.
“Kids and their lists, holy mackerel,” Lewis said.
“One girl had covered her whole family. She was so sweet,” Nancy said.
The two said some children were more willing to talk to Santa and Mrs. Claus than others. Often parents had their children eat before visiting Santa, and Lewis and Nancy spotted many children staring while they ate their pancakes.
Some were content to simply wave, while others were more eager to show off their lists. Some children wanted to know about Santa’s reindeer.
Lewis said he was trying to get the song down before the event to remember the names of all of Santa’s reindeer.
Each child at the breakfast got a bag of goodies, which included a coloring book and fruit, and Santa and Mrs. Claus gave out candy canes, all courtesy of the American Legion.
Both Lewis and Nancy have their own memories of visiting Santa as children. Lewis recalls the buildup to the one day that Santa would be in town.
“You just sat and dreamed about it, then afterwards you were mesmerized all year long,” he said.
Nancy remembers the bag of goodies she got from Santa: a good-sized brown paper bag with fruit, peanuts and candy.
“And of course you had a list made out,” she said.
Both Nancy and Lewis said Breakfast with Santa was a feel-good morning.
“It truly was a nice experience,” Nancy said.