Every year, Santa and Mrs. Claus appear for a month or two at the Desert Cedars home of Rich and Linda Huggins.
Q&A with Santa & Mrs. Claus
Q: Some people leave out cookies and cocoa for Santa. What treat would you really like?
SANTA: Tacos! We don’t have tacos at the North Pole, and Santa loves tacos.
Q: How do you decide who gets on the Naughty list?
SANTA: I leave that to Mrs. Claus.
Q: How long does it take you to get dressed for your Christmas Eve journey?
SANTA: About 20 minutes. I have two elves to help.
Q: What part of your outfit takes the longest?
MRS. CLAUS: The belt. It’s very heavy and very authentic.
Q: What do the reindeer like to snack on while they are waiting for Santa?
SANTA: Apples and carrots.
Q: What is your favorite song of the season?
SANTA: “White Christmas.” I like all of them.
Q How do you stay organized and keep track of so many children?
SANTA: Mrs. Claus keeps the books, and Santa checks the books.
Q: How do you choose your elves?
MRS. CLAUS: It’s a very popular thing to be an elf. We have to rotate every week.
Q: Does Santa really give naughty children coal for Christmas?
SANTA: Mrs. Claus does.
Q: What does Santa do after Christmas?
MRS. CLAUS: We’re going on a cruise!
Usually for four weekends (this year it’s five), they welcome young visitors, listen to their Christmas wishes and send them off with a candy cane. It has come to be known as Santa’s South Pole vacation home as he prepares for the big night.
Starting the week after Thanksgiving and continuing through the weekend before Christmas, Santa and Mrs. Claus are available Friday and Saturday 6-9 p.m. and Sunday 6-8 p.m. at 44267 W. Cypress Lane.
“Normally, we call it the 12 days of Christmas, but this year it’s 15 days because of how the calendar falls,” Linda Huggins said.
Since moving to Maricopa in 2005, the Hugginses have presented the Claus couple. Several families have told them they are the real beginning of Maricopa’s Christmas season.
“We had 75 kids the first year,” said Linda Huggins, who chairs the City’s Planning & Zoning Commission. “Last year, we had 885. We keep track by the number of candy canes we give out.”
When it was time for Santa to get a new outfit last year, they turned to local Amanda McVay of Amanda Sews. This year, it was Mrs. Claus’ turn to get a new ensemble from Amanda Sews after dramatic weight loss over a dozen years.
Happily taking the title of “Maricopa Santa,” they are also seen at public events such as the City Hall tree lighting, Merry Copa and Shop with a Cop. But sitting down with children and even having their picture taken with them is the heart of what they do.
“We take time with every child,” said Rich Huggins, who owns Maricopa Pool & Spa.
Maricopa Santa has a website operated by Linda’s son Ken Bobertz and a Facebook page, even getting “reviewed” by visitors.
Like Beth Mundell, who shared, “They are the best and benefit the community,” and whose cheer team members from Rockstar Arizona led the parade for Santa’s arrival Nov. 23.
The event involves three houses on Cypress Lane. The Hugginses said they always register their home for the City’s Holiday Homes on Parade, not to win but to be on the map.
“We have close to 100,000 lights,” Linda Huggins said.
There is no charge to visit with Santa, but the Hugginses are asking visitors to bring unwrapped toys to benefit F.O.R. Maricopa’s annual Christmas project. Anyone who brings a toy will receive a raffle ticket. The Hugginses also sponsor a family for Christmas.
Rich and Linda said it is their way of giving back.
Linda Huggins said she was on the welfare roles 35 years ago. She and her children were fortunate enough to be sponsored for Christmas by Catholic Charities, receiving dinner and presents.
“I promised God I was going to give back,” she said.
“We have memories that will last a lifetime,” Rich Huggins said.
This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.