Bendigo Santa retires

EVERY year for the past 40, three nights before Christmas, Geoff and Lorna Peirce don their Santa suits, turn on their Christmas lights and hand out lollies to children.

But it is Geoff and Lorna’s overwhelming popularity that makes the pair even more special. 

“I make up 1500 bags of lollies every year and then I give out around 1000 lollipops,” Mrs Peirce said.

“It’s choc-a-block; there are cars and Christmas light tour buses everywhere.

“You don’t want to be at our house for Christmas, it’s bedlam.” 

Mr Peirce said children queued up for miles to get the lollies.

It has been a Christmas tradition that started with their own children. 

“It started with our kids, and then the kids living in the house opposite, and before you knew it half of Bendigo was here,” Mr Peirce said.

He said the pair loved children and handed out the lollies to see their faces light up. 

But, sadly, the pair won’t be dressing up in their Christmas costumes anymore.

“We are retiring,” Mrs Peirce said. “Geoff is not as healthy as he used to be, but he wanted all the kids to know so they wouldn’t expect it.”

Although disappointed about putting the Santa suit away, Mr Peirce said he would cherish the time he spent having his photograph taken with the children. 

“It is surprising how many parents have little kids who are too scared and frightened to go to him (Santa Claus) down the street and then they come to me and I don’t have any hassle,” he said.

“I was talking to a dad the other day who had a daughter who is 19 and she still has a photo hanging up in her bedroom of me dressed up as Santa.” And it seems the couple’s celebrity status extends to outside of Australia, too.

Mrs Peirce said they were recognised on a cruise to Noumea by man who came up and asked if they were from Bendigo, Victoria.

“He said ‘I knew it, you’re the ones who have the Christmas thing’,” she said. 

Mr and Mrs Peirce said they would still be decorating their house with lights and ornaments, and Christmas light sightseers were welcome.

“I may even have some sort of Christmas biscuits to hand out,” Mrs Peirce said.

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