Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'It's True. He Is Santa.'; Orange Park's Jolly Old Elf Loves to Help

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'It's True. He Is Santa.'; Orange Park's Jolly Old Elf Loves to Help

Article excerpt

Byline: Mary Maraghy, Clay County Line staff writer

Forget the North Pole. Santa lives in Orange Park.

His name is Wayne Scott. Friends call him "Scotty."

He's got the white beard, the jelly belly and twinkling baby blues. Children behave better when he's around. (Just in case, he's making a list.) And Clay County adults agree with the kids that he's the real deal.

He proves it by spending his waking hours giving to others.

"He's one of a kind," said Anita Hinkle of Green Cove Springs. "If there were more people like him in the world, it would be a much better place."

Scott builds home and handicapped ramps for low-income families. He makes old bikes like new for kids without bikes. He foots the bill for bike helmets to go with the bikes.

"Well, what good is a bike without a helmet," he said.

He ministers to prison inmates. He's built a church in Mexico and repaired hurricane-damaged homes in the Bahamas. He finds beds, dining room tables and couches for people who need them.

And he's played Santa for at least 25 years at children's parties, churches, nursing homes and schools. He's been the town of Orange Park's official Santa for at least 15 years.

He won't do it for money because he says that takes the fun out of it. He's never been vomited on, but he's grappled with a sticky candy cane or two.

One kid pulled his beard. But an adult had put him up to it, Scott said.

Once a child handed Scott a Toys R Us sales circular and said, "I want everything in here."

At his church, Orange Park United Methodist, younger kids try to get his attention more around this time of the year.

But most kids don't pester him with toy requests because they are too "awed" by him, said the Rev. Jerry Anderson, assistant pastor.

"The kids say, 'Santa goes to my church,' " Anderson said.

Scott said sometimes it's tough to keep his composure as jolly Santa. A child may share a sorrow with him, such as parents who are divorcing. …

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