How Ama’s Santa got his groove

In this parish, Santa actually lives on the St. Charles – Jefferson parish line and he’s full of jolly cheer in order to elicit smiles.

Nearly six years ago, Tony LeBouef realized his calling when a friend at G. Smith Motorsports suddenly called to say their Santa backed out from their event and asked if LeBouef would be willing to fill in. They bought him a costume and, although it was the first time he’d dressed up in a costume other than for Halloween, he stepped in.

“It was like I feel awkward doing it,” he said. “It gave me a different outlook when I saw the kids smiling over seeing Santa Claus.”

And he’s been doing it ever since.

When others learned he did it, he got calls.

Last year, LeBouef was Santa at 10 events in December. As a volunteer firefighter with Luling Volunteer Fire Department, he often gets calls from fire departments to play Santa. They invite the whole family, including him, his wife, April, and three-year-old son. Other calls are to pose in photographs with children or attend special events at Mimosa Park Elementary School each year.

This year, the calls started coming the weekend after Thanksgiving. He plays Santa for anyone who asks him to do it.

“I like doing it now,” he said. “It’s one of those things I look forward to doing in December.”

He’s since bought his own costume, beard and hair, and LeBouef started interacting with the children more. He’s less shy about talking to the youngsters.

“I ask them what they want for Christmas, have they been good for their parents and it just goes on from there,” he said. “Whatever they tell me, I go on with it a little bit.”

In the process, he gets their wish list, which he admitted to having to research sometimes because he doesn’t always recognize the names.

“It’s not for the money,” LeBouef said. “They give me a little donation and they decide the amount.”

It is for the smiles.

And now, with he and his wife expecting twins, his appreciation for the children he meets grows more, even when they really just want to ask him for iPhones, Pokeman cards and LOL toys.

“You don’t know what the kid’s been through in the year. You want to give the kid the peace of mind that someone would talk to them about Christmas and what they want to get,” he said. “ It feels good. I know I did my part in life to put a smile on a child’s face.”


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