Selley prepares to hang up Santa suit
It is now 40 years since Mark Selley costumed himself as Santa for the Island's disabled, and while the latest round of Christmas cheer was just as much fun as the first time, Mr Selley is ready to pass on the Father Christmas suit.
“It started as a dare,” Mr Selley told The Royal Gazette in the aftermath of his arrival by horse and carriage at WindReach, to the delight of about 150 clients and their caregivers.
Mr Selley recalled dressing up for the first time in 1974, after hearing on the radio that “the Front Street Santa Clause parade was going to be cancelled” due to bad weather. On an impulse, he said he obtained some Santa clothing off Neville Dias at the Annex toy store, armed himself with bags of candy, and staged an impromptu visit to Front Street as Santa.
Noticing that some children in wheelchairs had difficulty reaching him, Mr Selley decided to organise a yearly Santa visit just for them.
“From that time on, it was a special children's party,” he said. It was staged at clubs such as Oasis, before settling at WindReach, where Mr Selley made his latest call as Santa Claus, led in by a bagpiper.
“It was a humorous event,” said Mr Selley. “It always is.
“I've had to make several size adjustments to the suit over the years, as my size has matured.
“I don't plan to retire but after 40 years, I need to get somebody to take over. I think it's been a good innings. It's been 40 years of doing what I call community service, and it's been great fun, but it's time for someone else.”