Full-time Santa

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! For more than 30 years, Jack Rose has listened to children whisper in his ear about what they want for Christmas. Whether it is a baby doll or a monster truck, Rose said being a real-life Santa Claus brings him joy. “I get as much out of the kids as they get out of me,” said Rose, 59, a retired sergeant with the Los Angeles Police Department. “In the moments I share with them, they forget all their worries, and they have a chance to enjoy themselves.” Rose started his second career portraying Santa Claus in the early 1970s while working as a Los Angeles police officer. “I went to a Christmas function at the blind children’s center and they didn’t have a Santa Claus for the kids. I put on a suit, passed out the gifts and I’ve done it ever since,” the San Dimas resident said. Over the past three decades Rose has posed as Santa Claus every holiday season at organizations geared toward helping disadvantaged children, including the Pasadena Scottish Rite Children’s Language Center, the Blind Children’s Center in Los Angeles and the Police Memorial Foundation. He said one of the reasons for continuing his impersonation for so long is so children will hear the same merry voice and see a familiar old man year after year. “He really has a way of warming up the kids, even those who are hesitant to sit on his lap. He’ll just lean over to them and talk to them and he does a really great job at it,” said Al Atkins, Police Memorial Foundation spokesman. While his main Santa duties include listening to wish lists, Rose said that through the experience he has garnered a respect for children because listening to them sometimes becomes very hard. “I had one little girl ask for her father to come back. He was a police officer killed in the line of duty. That was hard to listen to being a retired officer, and it really touched me,” Rose, a grand- father of five, said. “Then you get the ones who ask for gifts for their friends or family members, and you realize how nice it is to hear unselfishness.” While anyone can slip on a red suit, glasses, and a fake beard, Rose said getting into character is a production he works on even before the holidays roll around. “It’s more than putting on my outfit. I listen to holiday music for hours and that usually helps me feel the spirit of Christmas,” he said. “And since I retired a few months ago, I’ve been able to grow my own beard; everywhere I go, kids come up to me because they really think I am Santa.” In addition to playing Santa Claus for his own children and grandchildren as they grew up, Rose entertains about 200 children a year. “Jack is outstanding, the parents just love him because he is so great with the children,” said Herb Wilkins, spokesman for the Pasadena Scottish Rite Learning Center. “And the 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds really think he is the real McCoy, especially with his booming voice.” For the jolly fat man in Rose, the holiday spirit boils down to this: “I try to live my life according to `Do unto others as you would have them do to you,”‘ Rose said. “But as Christmas gets close, if I had a North Pole and a sleigh, I really would play Santa every day.” [email protected] (626)962-8811, Ext.2109last_img

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