The Clan Claus Society made its debut in the bright sunshine in red, green and yellow tartan with a reindeer insignia containing the word “Believe.”
It was all the brainchild of Santa Kona Gant, with help from Mrs. Claus, his wife Kathi.
Beginning about two years ago, the Gants sought tartan designs for Santa on the Web site ClausNet.com and received some 45 entries.
The Gants ordered outfits using Their preferred tartan, and the marchers for Clan Claus received a standing ovation for the Parade of the Tartans.
It was all very exciting, Kathi Gant said.
“We were thrilled to be part of this historical Ohio event,” she said.
Celebrating Christmas in July is gaining favor, according to the couple, who have several events to attend.
On Saturday, they will host a barbecue for about 30 people belonging to Ohio Buckeye Santas at their home in North Ridgeville.
“The Santas will all be in what we call ‘Casual Claus’ — colorful Hawaiian shirts, shorts and red socks,” said Kathi Gant.
Around Christmas, Kona Gant appears locally at Petitti Garden Center in Avon, Lehoty’s Hallmark in North Ridgeville and fire departments in Avon and Mentor.
“He is the true Santa,” said Carlene Murphy, who works at Lehoty’s. “He is so wonderful — people enjoy seeing him, children and adults — when he comes in the store and it is not even Christmas, everyone says, ‘Here comes Santa.’ ”
The white hair and beard are all natural for Gant, who is retired from the U.S. Army and has a second career as a motorsports photographer.
His says his hair first went white in 1969 during the Vietnam War when he pulled a No. 2 on his draft card. He enlisted instead, hoping he might have a little more control over his ultimate destination, and he spent time in Belgium with NATO forces.
In recent years, Gant also created custom motorcycles in his business, Iron Goddess Cycle Works, but he now only does motorcycle work for friends and relatives.
The Gants have been portraying Santa and Mrs. Claus about six years and both have attended Santa University.
At first, Kathi Gant, who teaches graduate social work classes at Case Western Reserve University, thought taking on the Santa persona was “Crazy, but now I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
She said the people who portray Santa really get into the task and enjoy getting together. In March, some 615 Santa portrayers took part in the Celebrate Santa Convention in Gatlinburg, Tenn.
Kona Gant said he’s grateful for Kathi’s involvement.
“She tolerates my madness,” he said. “She’s the best half of me.”
Send your Wellington and Oberlin news to Cindy Leise, 329-7245 or firstname.lastname@example.org.