Robin Huebner Reports: Santa and Mrs. Claus ready to spread 'random acts of Christmas cheer'
FARGO - Pat Claus may have retired from the Police Department here last month, but he and his wife, Kim, will still hop into a vintage cop cruiser on Christmas Eve to deliver gifts.
FARGO – Pat Claus may have retired from the Police Department here last month, but he and his wife, Kim, will still hop into a vintage cop cruiser on Christmas Eve to deliver gifts.
Dressed up as Santa and Mrs. Claus, the couple will bring “random acts of Christmas cheer” to unsuspecting children and adults, just as they’ve done for the past 15 years.
“We get so much more back from it than we give,” said Pat Claus, who is now executive director of the Emergency Food Pantry in Fargo.
“It’s real rewarding to see the look on the kids’ faces and even the parents’ faces,” said Kim Claus, a Fargo police patrol officer.
Those on the receiving end say the small, random acts have had big impacts.
One man called to thank the couple for stopping at his family’s northside home 10 years ago, shortly after they had lost a son.
“Then just like magic, you showed up,” Pat Claus remembers the man telling him.
“He said, ‘For years, that meant a lot to me, and one day I realized 10 years had slid by,’ ” Pat said.
Another, more recent recipient said the random act of cheer they received is often brought up at the dinner table.
“It really touched us,” said Kim Danielson of Fargo, who uses it as an example of kindness with her children and grandchildren.
Santa & Mrs. at the door
Danielson said Santa and Mrs. Claus pulled up to her and her husband’s home on Christmas Eve 2012.
They had just finished dinner with their kids and grandkids, and the little ones were running around, playing.
“I opened the door and thought, ‘Isn’t that sweet, my husband planned something for the grandkids,’ ” Danielson said.
Santa and Mrs. Claus told the family they saw a cute little blond boy in the window, wearing a Christmas vest and bowtie, and knew they had to stop.
The visit delighted the grandkids, while the older people in the house scratched their heads.
“Because none of the adults had those knowing smirks over the kids’ heads, we all believed it,” she said.
Danielson tried to figure out the identities of the jolly philanthropists but came up empty.
She eventually learned from her nephew, Fargo police Sgt. Shawn Gamradt, that Santa and Mrs. Claus were, in fact, Pat and Kim Claus.
Truly random acts
The random acts of Christmas cheer started when Pat Claus worked dayside in narcotics and Kim Claus had a nightside patrol shift.
Pat decided to ride around with Kim on Christmas Eve because it was the only way they could be together on the holiday.
He began by handing out candy, and then added a Santa suit to the act.
When Kim was moved to a dayside shift, the tradition continued, with her dressed as Mrs. Claus alongside Santa, and the couple handing out gifts.
In 2001, they began traveling in style in a 1967 Chevy police cruiser that is displayed in the law enforcement museum at Bonanzaville in West Fargo, and where the couple serve on the board of directors.
“We’re using that (the police cruiser) again, barring real inclement weather,” Pat said.
In years past, the couple received gift donations from area retailers, but as time went on, they decided it wasn’t necessary.
“It’s not about the increasing value of the gift – it’s just the random act of Christmas cheer,” Pat said.
The gifts are funded by the Clauses, a donation from the Fraternal Order of Police and a “significant secret elf.”
The Clauses shop right after the holidays to take advantage of sales, and come away with stuffed animals, teddy bears, blankets, trucks and small gift cards, all in the $5 to $7 range.
The haul is stashed under their stairwell until Christmas Eve, when they don their costumes, fill the back seat of the old squad car with gifts and set out about 4 p.m.
They work their way from one end of Fargo to the other for about six hours, stopping people coming out of church and visiting homes where children are outside or where a Christmas tree is visible in the window.
No specific areas of the city are targeted.
“It’s not about what people have or don’t have,” Pat said. “It’s truly random.”
While the Clauses are out doing their good deeds, a few police officers from West Fargo and sheriff’s deputies from Cass County also get in on the act by passing out gifts in their jurisdictions, provided by the Clauses.
Among the three agencies, Pat figures as many as 300 gifts are handed out.
It’s the couple’s own Christmas tradition they plan to continue for as long as they’re able.
And, it’s one that those on the receiving end also hope will continue.
“I’m very impressed by what they do,” Danielson said.
“It does make a difference.”