Volunteer Santa gave gift of smiles and wonderment to children this holiday season

Transatlantic Division
Published Jan. 7, 2016

Many consider the holiday season a time to get in the spirit of giving, not just of material items but also through bringing joy to others.

William Fritz, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Transatlantic Division’s Plans and Operations Deputy, brings joy to local children by dressing up as Santa, taking their Christmas wish lists and posing for pictures.

“My neighbor across the street owns a Christmas tree farm,” he said. “My wife and I told him for years that he needed a Santa and he finally told me I should do it. So we ordered a Santa suit online and I started the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

After the first time, Fritz said Santa went out to the farm every Saturday until Christmas.

“Some of the kids are just hysterical,” he said. “One boy didn’t know what he wanted for Christmas and I started to tell him to write me a letter and he interrupted me to say ‘no lectures please.’ It’s just so much fun.”

Maj. Kristjan Rauhala, who works with Fritz, brought his kids out to see Santa.

“I let him know a few things about the kids prior to the visit,” he said. “When he mentioned that my son was getting his braces off soon and that we were getting a puppy, their jaws dropped. It was just a great experience.”

Though Fritz spends most of his time in a rocking chair allowing families to approach him, he’ll pose near a sleigh on the farm if they ask him to. He said families often remark that it’s nice to visit a free Santa, with no waiting in line to see him.

When his two-year-old grandson’s daycare heard about his weekend activity, they asked him to attend the holiday recital. Fritz said he was a hit at the recital but his grandson wouldn’t come near him.

“Oh, he’d talk to me from far away,” he said. “He told me what he wanted for Christmas, but he wouldn’t let his mom put him on my lap.”

This was his first year playing Santa, but Fritz said he plans to do it again next year.

 

"Even if we move away some day, I'll come back at Christmas to be Santa."


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Division serves as USACE’s tip of the spear in one of the most dynamic construction environments in the world, STRENGTHENING PARTNERSHIPS, BUILDING CAPACITY, and ENHANCING SECURITY for our nation, allies, and partners. 

We deliver agile, responsive, and innovative, design, construction, engineering and contingency solutions in support of U.S. Central Command, U.S. Special Operations Command and other global partners to advance national security interests.

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