Motorcycle Rider is Schools Santa

Dan+Strickler+with+Laurel+Carvers%2C+math+teacher%2C+children.+It%E2%80%99s+moments+like+these+that+keep+Strickler+doing+what+he+does+year+after+year.
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Motorcycle Rider is Schools Santa

Dan Strickler with Laurel Carvers, math teacher, children. It’s moments like these that keep Strickler doing what he does year after year.

Dan Strickler with Laurel Carvers, math teacher, children. It’s moments like these that keep Strickler doing what he does year after year.

Photo by Photo used with permission of Dan Strickler

Dan Strickler with Laurel Carvers, math teacher, children. It’s moments like these that keep Strickler doing what he does year after year.

Photo by Photo used with permission of Dan Strickler

Photo by Photo used with permission of Dan Strickler

Dan Strickler with Laurel Carvers, math teacher, children. It’s moments like these that keep Strickler doing what he does year after year.

Ruby Lueras, Staff Writer

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Motorcycle rider by day, Santa Claus by night: this is the true story of Dan Strickler, drivers ed teacher.

Strickler has been dressing up as Santa each year around the holidays since the early 2000’s. It started as something small, but has now snowballed into a large part of his life.

“I started going to do the Toys for Tots ride in Chicago. My wife thought it would be cute if she made me a Santa Claus suit to wear during the Toys for Tots ride, it wasn’t until then that we realized how much I look like Santa,” Strickler said. “From there, people saw [me in the costume] and I was asked to do more events and more events, and it just built up from there.”

Since his first event as Santa, many people have approached him to attend more, according to Strickler.

“After Toys for Tots, somebody asked me if I would do some more charity motorcycle things as well and I of course did,” Strickler said. “Here at school, Mrs. Capparelli asked if I would do the Santa Claus [event] for the preschoolers here, since she saw a picture of me as Santa.”

At first, he was doubtful that his character of Santa Claus was believable, according to Strickler. In order to make the facade more believable, his wife made his costume to represent the “typical Santa,” according to Strickler.

“I didn’t think anyone would believe, but the kids obviously did,” Strickler said. “It’s just fun to go read some silly christmas story to [the kids] and watch them smile. It’s just nice to bring some magic into [the kids] life.”

Each year, Strickler attends the preschools’ holiday performance as Santa. Laurel Carver, math teacher, has brought her children to see Strickler in the past, and said when she first found out about him being Santa she “wasn’t surprised.”

“You never judge a book by its cover right,” Carver said. “While Mr. Strickler may ride a motorcycle and have a beard, he’s also a very thoughtful and caring person. I think anyone who judges people by their “book cover” misses out on a lot of great relationships.”

Strickler not only does different events as Santa, he also attempts to help spread holiday cheer around on a more personal level. For example, when a coworker of his wife and her family fell upon hard times, Strickler was there as support.

“The kids [in this family] were getting to be a little bit soured [because] the grandfather had passed not long before Christmas. A couple of the older ones were at that age of questioning whether Santa is real or not,” said Strickler. “The parents and I devised a plan to cheer the kids

  1. [The parents] left the gifts in the garage, and so I “snuck” into the house so the kids were able “catch Santa.” So I was in their house, singing little Christmas carols quietly to myself as I put the gifts under the tree. I ate a cookie and I gave a little ho ho ho and then [I went] out the door. It in a way, renewed their faith.”

Renewing faith and simply making kids smile is why he dresses up as Santa, according to Strickler. His main reason for doing all the different events is to help out whenever he is able to.

“I mainly just do it for people that are in need in some way,” Strickler said. “It’s no cost to me, so I see no point as to why I wouldn’t do. It’s fun for me, and it’s fun for all the kids, so why not.”

Carver has another idea why he does it.

“I believe he dresses up each year a little for the children but a lot for the unconditional love and smiles he received from bringing joy to people,” Carver said. “We all need a little “holiday magic” from time to time and Mr. Strickler [is] fortunate enough to be able to supply some of it.”

As for living the double life, Strickler is used to it, according to Rosemary Caparelli, child development teacher.

“Mr. Strickler seems rough and tough but he is a sweet teddy bear at heart,” Caparelli said. “He just doesn’t want anyone to know.”

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