Santa to greet and paint with kids at Mansion House
Cliff Brown has been Santa Claus since 1990.
An artist and art teacher who moved to Hagerstown in December 2016, Brown has his own Santa Claus paintings on display at The Mansion House Gallery and will be the Jolly Old Elf at the Mansion House Gallery in Hagerstown City Park Friday, Dec. 1, and Sunday, Dec. 3.
Festivities kick off Friday during the tree lighting at the park from 6 to 9 p.m. The gallery will be open with handmade holiday crafts and fine arts available for sale. Brown will appear as Santa at the park and afterward at the gallery where refreshments will also be available.
“We just have kids come and they sit next to Santa or they stand next to Santa. Parents can take pictures ... it’s free. (We’ll have) candy canes in here and cookies,” Brown said.
On Sunday, children ages 6 to 12 can come paint a holiday ornament with Santa from 1 to 2 p.m. or 2 to 3 p.m. The cost is $5 per child, and each session is limited to 15 participants. Participants can choose either a Santa Claus, Christmas tree or other festive scenes.
“They’re wooden ornaments and we have different varieties. I come in and spend time with them. I actually have an apron that says ‘Santa’ on it, I have my brushes and stuff. I don’t wear my coat, I wear a red shirt, and I go around with the kids and help them paint (and) there will be volunteers here,” Brown, who has been teaching art to kids for more than 30 years, said.
Brown, who turns 66 on Dec. 31, is far from having a belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly, but he looks the part of Santa Claus with an authentic white beard.
“I’ve been told I look like the Santa on ‘Miracle on 34th Street,’” he said, referring to the 1947 holiday classic starring Edmund Gwenn as Santa Claus.
“You see a lot of Santas with fake beards, and I think you should be as real as you can be. And there’s too many around. The malls that I’ve gone to ... I wear my Santa hat and boots sometimes and regular clothes and my coat. “One year there was a Santa in a mall in New Jersey, and he just had a picture taken with a child and he stood up and he came over to me and said, ‘You should be sitting here,’” he said with a laugh.
Brown also said when he’s out and about as St. Nick, he makes a point to speak to adults and children.
“Christmas is a good time for children and adults. I think adults love Santa as much as the kids do. And there’s a lot of places where they have ‘Santa,’ and they don’t talk to the kids, which is really, really bad,” he said.
In addition to the Mansion House, Brown also will appear in a decorative handmade, handpainted sleigh Saturday, Dec. 2, in downtown Hagerstown as part of Christkindle Markt. See story, page 9.
Brown emphasized that the weekend events at the Mansion House will be fun for everyone.
“We have lots of paintings of Santa here that artists have done. We have prints and we have cards. We do have Christmas crafts and everything’s handmade, nothing is store bought. And it’s just fun,” he said.