St. John's Santa writes book about experiences

A St. John's businessman who has been dressing up as Santa Claus for decades is talking about his experiences meeting with local children in a new book called, The Man in the Red Suit.

Bruce Templeton has been Santa Claus in every Christmas parade in the city since 1978, and he's made countless visits to the Janeway Children's Hospital as Jolly Old Saint Nick, including on Christmas Eve for children too sick to go home for the big day.

Templeton said it was those hospital visits that convinced him to go public and write a book about his experiences.

"For a long time I was very quiet about this, I mean this is year 34," said Templeton. "Then two years ago I decided there were so many powerful and so many unforgettable meetings with wonderful children that I had to share this with the public."

Many families who had encounters with Templeton's alter ego at the Janeway were present at his book launch in St. John's on Wednesday, including Kim and Barry Hart and their daughter Chelsea.

Chelsea Hart had suffered a seizure, and was hospitalized one Christmas Eve. She had been unresponsive for 15 hours when Templeton paid her a visit in full costume.

"I will never forget when he walked into Chelsea's room and the doctor said 'she will not be able to see you. But if you shake the bells on your arm she might be able to hear them'," recounted Chelsea's mother, Kim Hart. "As soon as he waved his arms, Chelsea opened her eyes and gave us a big smile. I guess that was Santa's present to me."

Templeton plans to put on the big red suit again later this fall, starting with his appearance at the Downtown Christmas Parade in St. John's, and continuing with his hospital visits until Dec. 25.

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