COLORADO SPRINGS — Before Santa started his trip around the world for Christmas, he spent weeks at his vacation home in Colorado Springs greeting children and families.
Santa Joe, Joe stands for Jolly Ole Elf, has been keeping the magic going in our community for so many years. Every year, he decorates his home as a Christmas wonderland. Hundreds of kids and families stop by, and seeing him year after year has become a tradition for many.
This year, he brought the magic of Christmas to his driveway on West Pikes Peak Avenue. He sits in his big red sleigh and asks children what they want for the holiday.
"It's wonderful. There's nothing better than a hug, and a lot of these families have seen me," said Santa Joe. "The key is, let them be a kid. Let them have that happiness and that little excitement like, 'I wonder what Santa brought me?' That's the excitement, and that's the magic of Christmas."
This year, he's greeted more than 1,000 families.
"From Indonesia, I had people from Kansas, people from Evergreen. The whole thing is, they like seeing the little fat boy with the white beard."
For many of those families, seeing Santa Joe is an annual tradition.
"We have pictures of them, little tiny babies when they were in his lap, and we come to him every year," said Jason Teeters, who has two sons who are 10 and 11 years old.
Both of his sons took pictures with Santa Joe when they were just days old and also took pictures with him on Christmas Eve.
"He's so good with the kids, and he's just a fantastic guy. I enjoy it because of the smiles on the kids' faces. They have fun with it and they are always happy to see Santa Joe," said Teeters.
Samuel Vasquez also has five daughters and says the at-home Christmas display and holly jolly Santa Joe have kept them coming back for the last eight years as a family.
"He's the best Santa. He's just so personable as a Santa and talks to the kids and interacts a lot. It's not just about taking the pictures. I'm blessed that we continue to see Santa Joe and we appreciate what he does for the community and all the kids around Colorado Springs," said Vasquez.
Santa Joe has also been spotted in malls and furniture stores in previous years. Last week, he even paid a visit in a helicopter to all the kids at Children's Hospital Colorado Springs.