Back in 1987, my dad was walking at the mall--he was a mall walkin' pioneer--and was asked to play Santa Claus, on the fly, because the regular Santa had gotten sick.

The rest was history.

He was a mall Santa for the next 17 years. Dad's last Christmas on the job was 2004. He passed away the following month, in January of 2005.

He also parlayed that gig into "jolly old" work at Holiday World & Splashin' Safari.

One summer, back in 2002, we took a big family vacation like we used to do when I was a kid--only THIS time I was one of the drivers.

We piled into two vehicles and made the trek to Gulf Shores.

One day, on the beach, when Dad was decked out in his red-banded Panama hat, white boat shoes with the red trim, his red and white plaid shirt and red shorts, kids and parents started lining up by the cabana we had rented.

The rest of us were out in the ocean and noticed this line forming.

As it turns out, all these kids thought they had caught up with Santa Claus ON VACATION.

And, well, they HAD!

Dad loved it, and we're not sure how many people got their picture with him.

It made me wonder how many people I'll never meet, around this country, have a picture of Dad. And then I began to wonder how many of YOU have a picture of him from his years at Towne Square Mall or Holiday World.

I'd be interested to know.

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