Santa set to swim in Special Olympics

Published 10:32 pm Sunday, December 20, 2009

“If I remember correctly, I first played Santa Claus as an April Fool’s joke when I was ten years old,” laughed 24-year-old Terry Christian Jr.

He dressed up in jolly, old Saint Nick garb and stood in his front yard waving to folks as they drove along Shelby County 47 in Chelsea.

“I thought it up,” he recalls. “I thought I would slip one in on them. They wouldn’t be expecting to see Santa in April.”

After that, Christian began playing Santa for groups at Christmas time.

And he’s still at it.

He’s played Santa at schools and churches and for several years, he was the Santa who rode a fire truck around Chelsea waving to boys and girls, he said.

His latest gig, and his latest ride on a fire engine, was on a recent Saturday when he rode up to the Chelsea Community Church to hand out gifts to boys and girls at a Christmas party for a group of foster children.

Christian’s other activities include working part-time at Winn-Dixie in Chelsea and swimming on the Shelby County Special Olympics Swim Team.

“Every year since 2000 I’ve made it to State,” he said, “And won several medals. I have 20 or 25 medals in all, not counting the ribbons. I try to keep them where, if someone asks about them, I can show them off.”

Another accomplishment, of which Christian is quite proud, is his ham radio operator’s license, which he recently received.

Christian said he’s not sure when he’ll play Santa Claus again.

He has to finish putting up his family’s Christmas lights and other decorations before he can think about doing anything else this holiday season.

Shelba Nivens can be reached by e–mail at