His grandfather was Santa, and so is he

December 14, 2004|EMILY TOADVINE

Stephen Dismuke can relate to how tired Santa must feel after he makes all his stops. What used to be a few stops is stretching into a longer and longer list for Dismuke.

He started portraying Santa about five years ago, going to visit nieces and nephews and children that his wife, Terry, baby-sat.

"These babies are like Terry's babies," he says.

Dismuke, who is a recruiter with the National Guard, says he fell in love of playing Santa because it was something his grandfather in Indiana had always done during their visits there.

"My grandfather was like a hero to me."

His grandfather was Santa on Christmas Eve and the housecat was dressed as Santa on Christmas.

"That's how Santa Claus was supposed to get into the house was to be a cat," Dismuke says.

When asked about the cat's enthusiasm for the role, Dismuke says the cat was cooperative.


"It was an old Siamese cat and I don't think he cared."

Terry Dismuke says her husband has gotten more requests to dress up because he is perfect for the Santa job.

"He's just like a kid himself. He's so energetic."

Plans for a new Santa suit

Now that Dismuke is getting more engagements, he plans on upgrading his attire.

"We saw a Santa suit at the Christmas store in Nashville. I think this Santa suit may be getting updated. They have better beards," says Dismuke.

His wife gives him some minor adjustments before he enters the Junction City home of her brother, Jeff Jones, and his wife, Tina. Their almost 4-year-old twins, Jeremy and Jordan, light up when he arrives at the front door. Without hesitation, they climb on his lap, never missing a beat as they recite a list that includes Power Rangers, a Spiderman watch and a sword. In the spirit of the season, they tell Santa not to forget their older sisters, Shelby and Cheyenne.

Tina Jones, who baby-sits other children, says Santa was a big hit last year when 10 children climbed on his lap. She is thrilled that her brother-in-law plays the role because she grew up with a stepgrandfather who did the same. She turned out to be a loyal supporter of Santa, even in the face of doubters.

"I loved Santa. I even got into a fight with a girl at school," she says, recalling that she was in fifth-grade.

With his mental list intact, Dismuke prepares to leave, but others in Danville will have an opportunity to share their wants with him. He will be at the House of Style in Danville Manor Shopping Center noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.

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