Dozens in red suits say goodbye to veteran Santa

Fort Calgary was decked with boughs of holly Sunday as Santas from all over Alberta gathered to remember the life of one special jolly old elf.

CALGARY — Fort Calgary was decked with boughs of holly Sunday as Santas from all over Alberta gathered to remember the life of one special jolly old elf.

Though it was warm outside, dozens dressed in the familiar red suits came together in a room decorated with a twinkling tree, stockings, photographs and even a “naughty or nice” list.

They were paying tribute to Victor Nevada, 65, also known as Santa Victor, who died March 1 of pancreatic cancer.

Nevada was well known in the Christmas business as the headmaster of Santa School, where the trained educator from the University of Saskatchewan conducted seminars for more than 20 years.

Friend and fellow Santa Michael Shepherd said the memorial was definitely an occasion to be jolly.

“He wanted to have laughter,” Shepherd said during a ceremony featuring hymns and Christmas songs performed on bagpipes.

“He wanted this to be a big finale show, something that he can look down at and laugh.”

“When he smiled and laughed, his whole body shook — he was born to be a Santa Claus,” he said.

Friend Jennifer Andrews, also known as Auntie Claus, now has tough boots to fill when she takes over his Santa school.

She first met Nevada seven years ago when she asked him to come to her house for Christmas.

“The big children and the little children were mesmerized,” she said, explaining that he was a “one of a kind character” and anyone who was with him felt the magical feeling they felt as a child at Christmas.

“I don’t know if he knew how much of an impact he really had,” she said.

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