Keeping the 42-Year Tradition of Mountain Santa Alive

Son follows in his dad's footsteps and gives Christmas gifts to poor families.

Dec 16, 2019

While Thanksgiving heralds in the Christmas shopping and decorating season in the US, some people start a lot earlier.

Jordan Howard who lives on Santa Lane in Wallin's Creek (Harland County), Kentucky has been busy decorating and wrapping gifts since Halloween according to CBS News. That's because Howard is continuing a 42-year tradition of dressing up as Mountain Santa and delivering gifts to the poor children of Kentucky's Cumberland mountain communities.  

The tradition started with his father Mike, and Howard is following in his dad's footsteps. And they are mighty big footsteps to fill.

Every year, Mike Howard would collect the Christmas presents and bring them to families who might not get any otherwise. The area has traditionally depended on coal mining to provide employment, but the industry has been declining since the 1980s. The county is one of the poorest in the US.

Mike Howard passed away after a battle with cancer in 2018, and his wife died eight months' later. To honor his parents, Howard is keeping the Mountain Santa legacy going.

As of mid-November, Howard and community members have already wrapped over 1,000 presents but that is only half of what they needed. The gifts are donated by the local community and from people near and far. There is a crew of volunteers who help to wrap and deliver the gifts

"Everything's still coming together," Howard told CBS Affiliate WYMT-TV. He is amazed by how supportive the community is. "You don't think a community would come together like they have to continue to just keep doing this. But it's just awesome"

Howard hoped to have 3,500 presents ready to go when the deliveries began on December 14 this year.  

Many believe that Santa Claus lives and works at the North Pole. But Mountain Santa is alive and well on Santa Lane in the mountains of Kentucky where giving back to the community is a way of life.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.