When his community lost a longtime Santa, Inside CDCR editor Don Chaddock chose to help fill the void by donning the iconic suit.
Chaddock is one of many of a small army of CDCR and CCHCS Santa volunteers who make the holiday season a little brighter.
Friend inspired others to volunteer
Two decades ago, Chaddock met Brad Weston through shared community volunteer work. Weston was always there to help charitable causes benefiting the Auburn area. His example inspired others to raise their hands when the community needed help.
Through chilly evenings twice each month in December, Weston put on his Santa outfit and posed for photos at the Old Town Auburn Christmas fair.
After he passed away just before the holidays in 2020, Chaddock purchased a traditional Santa outfit and began growing his beard.
“Brad inspired me,” Chaddock said. “This is something I can do to honor his memory.”
First-time Santa to visit local school
This holiday season is his first as Santa, when he will be reading stories for children at a local school.
He’s no stranger to volunteering in the community, but has never been front-and-center.
“I volunteered for years in Auburn, especially around the holidays, but always in the background. I’ve helped string lights across our main downtown street and replaced garland decorations on the lamp posts,” he said. “As a block captain for the town’s big Festival of Lights parade, I wore a reflector vest and carried a flashlight to help guide the parade through some dark spots along my assigned block. I also kept kids out of the road, maintaining a safe zone. Being Santa, though, will be very different.”
The Auburn community holds a special place for Chaddock. Before his eight years working at CDCR, he was a community newspaper editor in Placer and Sacramento counties.
“Fairs, rodeos, fundraisers, parades, community organizations and festivals were part of my life for 25 years working in the newspaper industry,” he said. “We have a lot of people in CDCR, DAPO, DJJ and CCHCS who volunteer their time, resources or skills to better the communities where they live and work. Those are the stories we are trying to tell through the CDCR Office of Public and Employee Communications.”
While the Inside CDCR editor says he doesn’t think he’s ready for large events wearing the Santa suit, a small school setting should be just right.
“I’ll be thinking of Brad Weston and all he did as Santa, even when it was super busy during holiday fairs. He’s my inspiration and I hope I can live up to his example,” he said.
Related content: CDCR volunteer Santa DJ Cunning.