INDEPENDENCE CO., Ark. (KAIT) - In Independence County, the spirit of Christmas love is clear even after the hard year many of us have had, especially, Patrick Collins, who continued his role as Santa Claus even after losing his wife this Fall.
Collins reminds us all to look at the bright side.
“When you have a bad day, the world doesn’t slow down much, especially this year, the world does not stop. There are enough problems in this world, you add COVID to it, that’s just one more problem,” Collins said.
Collins is an Independence County Sheriff’s Deputy, a restaurant owner, a Student Resource Officer for the Batesville School District, but his best title is Santa Claus.
“My wife was a big proponent of that. She got a big kick out of booking Santa Claus. I would sit there and she would get a phone call and say, sure he would love to do it. She would hang and I would say where we going. What do I have to do,” Collins said.
Willing to do it all for her, the children and anyone who needed Santa.
But, unfortunately, Collins lost his other half, his Mrs. Claus, this August. He says Christmas time was their thing and he will keep going.
“Not only to honor her but the kids. I mean Christmas is all about the kids,” Collins said.
He says some of his favorite moments are when children return to school in the days after Christmas and talk about seeing Santa.
“They look at you and say, Officer Patrick, Officer Patrick, I saw Santa Claus last night. And I said, no way. And I said, I didn’t know Santa was in town and they said yeah, it was the real Santa and once you experience that, you can’t get out of this. You’re in it,” Collins said.
Giving back to kids, those in hospitals, even donating the money raised for him after his wife’s death to help with a car seat program at the school, he says no matter the circumstances, you have to look at the world half-full.
“The only person you can let down is yourself. Sure I have every reason to stop playing Santa Claus, to stop what I do. But, every day, there’s a reason,” Collins said.
A reason for the season and several reasons for this year, he says God has the final plan.
“I can be gone tomorrow. Heaven forbid, but I expect to be around here for another 20-30 years. And if it works out, I may be Santa Claus for another 20-30 years. But next year, I know will be better. 2021, I plan on eating some black-eyed peas to try to get a little bit of extra luck for next year.”
He says there’s no doubt in his mind that the children who spend those moments with him will forever. But, several will remember his story and why every day there’s a reason.