Boyd Applegate’s job is driving big-rig trucks. But his passion is Santa Claus.
Each Christmas Boyd dresses up as a “real-beard” Santa. He does it for love, not money — in more than 20 years he has never accepted payment for his services.
At StoryCorps, Boyd told his sister, Rhonda Dixon, how he got his start.
Boyd won the Goodyear Highway Hero Award in 1993 for saving 3 people from auto accidents.
Listen here to Boyd speaking about his work as an election volunteer.
Click here for the transcript.
And one early November, my head was cold, and I didn't have a hat. So, I stopped at a Wal-Mart. They had a rack of Santa hats right inside the door, and I picked one off, and I put it on my head. And a little 4-year-old boy that was walking by with his mother yanked her to a stop and said, "Look, it's Santa."
And I have not spent Christmas Eve or Christmas Day at home with my family for the last 18 years. I'm usually in a rented red convertible, and I do under-the-tree gift deliveries that are designed for children to wake up and catch me in the middle of the process.
Rhonda Dixon (RD): What are some of your favorite moments doing Santa Claus over the years?
BA: One young lady wanted me to be her new stepfather. One young lady wanted me to provide her a maid. I've gone down to Tijuana, Mexico and done it where I don't speak the language.
In fact one year, when I was coming back, this young man comes running up to the side of the car. And when he saw me, his eyes opened, and his jaw dropped. I gave him a really jolly, "Ho, ho, ho," and I handed him this gift. And as I went across the border, the border guard had seen me hand him something. And he looked at me, and he said, "You really must be Santa, and tonight I can't possibly stop you, so go ahead."
BA: As a Santa Claus, one of the big mistakes you can make is to not believe yourself. When I walk out of the house in my suit, I cease being me, and I absolutely am Santa. And no matter whether it's a skeptical teenager or somebody that wants to yank on my beard, it doesn't matter. What matters the most to me is I believe.
And Santa Claus is truly the most important thing in my life.