Santa Claus fan Shawn Slavin takes a selfie with Percy Hayes at a care home in White Rock on July 29. Hayes

A holly, jolly birthday

A fan’s Facebook campaign goes viral for Surrey’s Percy Hayes, the ‘real’ Santa Claus.

Shawn Slavin was visiting his great aunt last Tuesday at a seniors’ care home in White Rock when he discovered something that prompted a flood of childhood memories.

Santa lives at 1550 Oxford St.

This is Percy Hayes, the man Slavin knew as the jolly old elf from Guildford Town Centre, and the man whose lap Slavin and his two brothers sat on each Christmas from the age of four to 11.

The 27-year-old Victoria man quickly posted a message on Facebook asking for people to send their best wishes to Hayes, who was about to celebrate his 84th birthday on Wednesday the following week (July 29).

“He was (and still is) the REAL Santa Claus,” Slavin wrote.

Within eight days of the online posting – on Hayes’ birthday – Slavin was at Santa’s side at the care home, along with a basket full of birthday cards – 141 so far – that were mailed from as far away as England.

As visitors paid their respects, Santa wore his trusty hat and jingled his bells.

“Wonderful people, they’re all wonderful,” said Hayes.

Photo submitted by Shawn Slavin.

Darlene Gaunt said her father still has his Santa suit and boots, which he used for 12 years at Guildford Town Centre, two years at Metrotown, one year at the downtown Vancouver Sears and several Surrey firefighters and food bank charities until he retired around 2000.

Gaunt says the family had originally planned on a regular family birthday for her father.

But with 2,900 likes and more than 5,000 shares on Slavin’s Facebook page, this Christmas-themed birthday was special – and not too taxing for Hayes.

“I’m very pleased,” Gaunt said. “Everything has unfolded so nicely.”

A few other eager admirers visited Hayes in recent days with a cards and good wishes.

“I felt bad… when I read the card to him he teared up… such a sweetheart,” said George Mow Jr., who posted photos he took of himself and Hayes on his Facebook page.

Mow was a “Santa helper” from the 1960s to the 1980s at Guildford Town Centre.

“He has been a part of my life and my child’s life for as far as I can remember,” wrote Shelley Brink of Calgary. “(He) was our star of Christmas.”

Birthday cards are still welcome. The address is: Percy Hayes, c/o Evergreen Baptist Campus of Care, 1550 Oxford St., White Rock, B.C., V4B 3R5.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A new 23-storey condo development – which might also house a new White Rock city hall space – is proposed for the current site of 3 Dogs Brewing on Johnston Road, and will be discussed by the Land Use and Planning committee on Oct. 26. (File photo)
Civic centre could be part of new 23-storey White Rock condo tower

Development proposal to be discussed Oct. 26 by council’s land use committee

The number of new COVID-19 cases in the Fraser South region has doubled in the last two weeks. The number of cases in the Fraser East region has tripled.
Chart: Tyler Olsen
COVID-19 surge in B.C. fuelled by spikes in new cases in Fraser Valley & Surrey area

Number of newly confirmed cases has tripled in Fraser Valley and doubled in the Surrey/Langley area

Lotto winner Erwin Espiritu. (submitted photo: BCLC media relations)
$1M lotto surprise for Surrey dad buying takeout food for son’s birthday

‘When I went to show my son, he said that there was six zeros on the screen, not three’

Pumpkins outside Malvinder Gill’s farm on 152nd Street in Surrey. (submitted photo: Sarah Wilson)
At Surrey farm, free pumpkins for donation to food bank

‘Amazing for the community, especially during the pandemic,’ says one local resident

White Rock Whalers goaltender Jonathan Holloway makes a blocker save in Thursday’s game against the Surrey Knights. The Whalers won the game 9-1 thanks to a six-goal second period. (Jody Harris photo)
White Rock Whalers score nine in season-opening win over Surrey Knights

PJHL team won’t play on home ice until at least Nov. 7

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The family of Anika Janz, who died after collapsing at school, has launched a GoFundMe to assist with funeral proceedings. (GoFundMe photo)
Family of student who died launches GoFundMe

Rick Hansen Secondary School student Anika Janz, 14, died after collapsing in PE class

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

Most Read