ROCHESTER, Minn. – The Rochester community is coming together to make sure Santa and his reindeer keep coming back.
This particular Santa has been visiting the Med-City for 16 years. People can find him at ABC and Toy Zone in Rochester, but that wasn’t always the case.
Santa used to visit kids at the Apache Mall. But when some items on their wishlist didn’t match up with Santa’s, he said, he was laid off.
“So, I said no, and they brought in Mr. Fill, Mr. Fill-in Santa. And the following year, I didn't get an invite to go back,” Santa said.
That’s when the community stepped in. An “anonymous elf” started a GoFundMe page to help Santa travel all the way from the North Pole, which in this case is Colorado, to Rochester.
Sunny Prabhakar isn’t the one behind the effort, but is a friend of the “anonymous elf” who started it all.
“They flew him out with the plane ticket, got him a hotel, found him a place at the Miracle Mile at ABC and Toy Zone to bring Santa back to Rochester,” Prabhakar said.
Four years later, people are still helping Santa via GoFundMe. So far, this year’s online fundraising has raised over $1,000 for Santa.
“I think it’s really cool people care enough to say this is important for all community’s kids, not just one family’s kids to bring Santa here,” Prabhakar said.
The support is the community’s gift to Santa, and is what keeps him believing in that Christmas magic.
“Rochester has become my winter home. And the people of Rochester have become my winter family,” he said. “I'm very humbled to be here, to be Santa for all the children. Always believe in the magic and keep Christmas in your heart.”
To see the GoFundMe page for Santa, click here.
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