Texas Santa Claus 'proud' of his name

Dec. 25, 2010 at 4:00 AM

FORT WORTH, Texas, Dec. 25 (UPI) -- A North Texas man named Santa Claus said he is "proud" of his "unusual" name and enjoys dressing up as the jolly old elf during the holiday season.

Santa Michael Claus, 63, of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, whose blond hair long ago turned white like the Santa of legend, said his mother, Irene Claus, allowed his then-15-year-old sister, Wanda, to choose his name when he was born in 1947, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Friday.

"I had to name him Santa," said Wanda Claus Peschel, 78. "I wanted to have a Santa Claus in the family."

Claus said he went by Michael for the first years of his life, but he started using Santa while serving in the Navy and afterward decided to keep on using his first name.

"I'm proud of the name," he said. "It's unusual. It's opened a lot of doors for me."

Claus said in recent years he has enjoyed portraying his namesake at his church, St. Andrew's Episcopal in McKinney. He said he grows his white beard out for the holidays.

"The kids are in total awe when they meet Santa," he said.

"He really is like Santa Claus in every way," said his wife, Joyce Claus. "He's got the belly, the white beard and a really big laugh."

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