Greg Brooks of Martinez says he loves being Santa Claus.
Brooks, a firefighter and paramedic for Savannah River Site when he's not dressed up like jolly old St. Nick, has played Santa Claus in the Augusta Christmas Parade for 25 years.
"It's something that warms my heart up to be able to be Santa Claus," Brooks said. "When you're going down in the parade, everybody is waiting on you and everybody has a smile on their face, and I just enjoy that.
"I've never seen anybody not smiling when they're at a parade ... 2 years old up to 80, they're smiling and waiting on you."
Brooks, a member of the Augusta Jaycees, said he was approached by his fellow Jaycees to substitute for the regular Santa 25 years ago, and he's had the job since.
He said he was the morning shift Santa at Daniel Village and the Augusta Mall before his first city Christmas parade and has about 30 years' experience playing the jolly old man.
Brooks also tours local elderly care homes, hospitals, daycares, schools and shopping centers hoping to spread Christmas cheer.
Many times the children he has met replenished his Christmas spirit, he said.
"You'll have a child come up to you, like I did this year ... and say 'Santa, I don't want anything this year, I just want a bike for my big brother.'
"That just touches your heart and makes you want to keep going," he said.
Brooks visited A Child's World day care on Columbia Road on Tuesday to give a couple of children who missed their first visit a second chance to sit on Santa's lap.
Instead of a sleigh, Brooks arrives in a red Chevy Suburban pulling a bright red trailer, decorated inside with snow, Christmas ornaments, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer and a chair for Santa and the children.
"It makes it real convenient when you set it up," he said.
During the off-season, Brooks uses the trailer to haul CPR dummies and fire-fighting equipment, he said.
Children can line up outside the trailer and wait their turn to share their Christmas wishes with Santa.
"I'm helping to make their season a little bit brighter," he said.
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