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Santa plans his annual Castaic visit

Posted: December 7, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 7, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Jeff Preach kicked off the Castaic Santa Float parade for his family and neighbors 24 years ago.

Preach’s kids are all grown now, but the tradition is still going strong, with Santa set to begin his 10-night journey through Castaic neighborhoods tonight to visit with neighbor children.

A contingency plan is in place if the weather forbids Santa from visiting: The neighborhood at which he was set to make an appearance moves to the bottom of the schedule and still gets a visit from St. Nick.

The first Santa float was built atop an old motorcycle trailer, Preach said.

Later, the Lions Club got involved, building an official sleigh for the parade, which Preach now stores year-round in a barn he built for storage.

Five years into the parade, Lions Club member Norman Coe wrote the first check to help pay for the Santa suits that are needed to fit various-sized Santas, Preach said.

“This is a fabulous event,” Coe said. “It’s the kind of thing we should support. I just wanted to show my gratitude.”
The sleigh float was built by a man who worked for Walt Disney Imagineering, Coe recalled. The first time he saw it, the float workers turned off all the lights in the barn except those on the float. The effect was “just magical,” he recalled.

Today neighbors plan street parties around the Santa float’s visit. Up to 50 kids can be waiting at a stop, Preach said.

“They say, ‘This is the real Santa. It’s not the one at the mall,’” he recounted.

Neighborhood groups, churches, businesses and organizations help sponsor each of the nights that Santa goes out on his float to visit the kids. Some of the sponsors who supply Santa and take charge of the route for the night are adults who grew up with the tradition.

“I’m really proud of my boys for taking a night,” Preach said.

Along the Santa routes, people donate food for those in need of a little help around the holidays. Used eyeglasses are also accepted for donation to someone who can’t afford his or her own prescription glasses.
The people of Castaic are extremely generous, donating bags with enough food to make an entire holiday meal, Coe said.

“We collect almost three tons of food over the Christmas holiday and distribute it locally to seniors, families and some of the schools,” Coe said. “We also give a significant amount to the SCV Food Pantry.”

Most amazing is that a lot of the guys who serve as Santa say their lives are changed afterward, Coe said.

“They hear all the drama in people’s lives — the happiness, sadness and joy.”

If you live in Castaic and a visit from Santa’s float is canceled in your neighborhood, check the Lions Club website at to find the rescheduled date.


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