FRONTENAC — Leroy Hatfield, aka ‘Santa’ had his hair cut after 14 years to give to a charity with hopes it would make a child with no hair happy.
Hatfield said children would pull his beard to see if it was real when they sat on his lap.
“It was actually the parents that told them to do it,” he said.
The parents were just as curious.
But now, with the summer heat, Hatfield said it’s just too hot and he’s ready to let the hair go and officially retire.
He said he would like to give the long white hair to a charity, which will transform his hair into a wig for a child in need.
“Santa wants to keep on giving,” Hatfield said. “I want to give it to someone who can use it.”
The charity to which Hatfield plans to send his three long white braids of hair is called “Children With Hair Loss,” which accepts gray and white hair.
The charity partners with Jon Renau which manufactures wigs and other hair pieces. According to the Children With Hair Loss website, each recipient receives a hair replacement every year, completely free of charge, until they reach age 21 — they are never charged for the wigs.
Owner of Platinum Salon Brandy Tassi said many people come to her salon to donate hair — most of which are young girls — but she has never helped a Santa donate before.
Hatfield became ‘Santa’ after his wife dared him to go for it.
“I wanted to be Santa,” Hatfield said. “I told my wife and she said, ‘I dare you.’”
His first job was found in an advertisement in the paper for a ‘Santa’ in the Meadowbrook Mall.
During his 20 years of being ‘“Jolly St. Nick,” Hatfield said he took a break to help transport foster children, but decided to be Santa again — this time at the Northpark Mall in Joplin. Hatfield still helps foster children.
He was also a traveling santa for eight year. He traveled across the Four States with his backdrop and suit.
During the haircut he laughed as he shared his memories of things people have asked for on his lap — including an 80-year-old woman who wanted a new pair of slippers and a “six-pack of Schlitz.”
When it wasn’t Christmas season, Hatfield said children and parents would point him out at the store and ask where his suit is.
“I told them this is how I check if kids need to go on the naughty list,” he said laughing. “He quickly ran the other way — that shows how he’s been.”
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.