Mangaluru : “You better watch out, You better not cry, Better not pout,I’m telling you why, Santa Claus is coming to town; He’s making a list,And checking it twice; He’s gonna find out,Who’s naughty or nice,Santa Claus is coming to town; He sees you when you’re sleeping, He knows when you’re awake, He knows if you’ve been bad or good, So be good for goodness sake! So,You better watch out!, You better not cry, You better not pout,I’m telling you why,Santa Claus is coming to town”-these are the lyrics from the famous all time favourite Christmas song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”.
But Santa Claus has already arrived in Mangaluru and and for the last couple of days he has been entertaining the inmates at various ashrams, home-for-the-aged and other NGO’s, spreading the spirit of Christmas, and also love and peace during this joyous season. He doesn’t go empty handed, instead carries bagful of goodies and candies and distributes among the less-fortunate and inmates at the NGO’s, and also entertains them by singing Christmas carols- and this person clad in the attire of Santa Claus is none other than Vincent Menezes hailing from a small village called Kokkada, located at the foothills of Shiradi Ghat. Vincent has been entertaining people attired in Santa Claus for many decades, and still continues to do so.
Although the original Santa Claus rode the sleigh pulled by the reindeer’s to reach people’s homes, and climb down the chimney’s to distribute goodies and gifts to the children, our “Santa Claus” Vincent rides The Honda Activa scooter powered by a 8bhp, adored in Christmas decorations and slogans-he doesn’t climbs down the chimney, since there are hardly any in Mangaluru, instead enters through the front gate/door. In the run-up to Christmas, 49-year-old Vincent has been seen whizzing around the town on his tinsel-trimmed mobility scooter, “putting a smile on people’s faces”. Variety of Christmas decorations, multi-coloured fairy lights, and tinsel adorn Vincent’s Super-Santa Scooter.
Speaking to mangalorean.com he said, “It’s part of my Christmas. A lot of people take pleasure in it and children love it. I suppose you could say that I never grew up. My aim during this joyous season is to make the young and the old happy-and I am not doing it for personal gain or popularity. I always wanted to help people who had a hard time, especially the less-fortunate ones. Once a inmate at a ashram said ‘You’re Secret Santa, aren’t you?’ Before that I didn’t think that anyone knew it was me. Despite my busy agriculture work schedule, I am still determined to bring happiness to others at Christmas. I will do anything to put a smile on people’s faces. It’s what I live for, to bring happiness to other people. I don’t care about how I will benefit, only others.”
When asked what’s his motto behind going around dressed like a Santa Claus during Christmas time, Vincent replied, “My aim is to spread the message of Christmas among the different communities. I also want to bring awareness among the people that they should not neglect the old people and the less-fortunate, It’s sad to note that there are so many seniors citizens left at old age homes by their children. I make these people happy at least during Christmas time- and they appreciate it a lot. I also want to promote communal harmony, create awareness on environmental conservation and cleanliness, peace and love between different faiths and promote unity”. And the best part is that Vincent bears all the expenses for his travel and food, and doesn’t expect anything in returns.
Vincent’s mission is only to convey the Christmas message of peace and love to mankind. Adding further he said, ” Jesus Christ who was born in the manger has delivered messages that foster love and brotherhood. Lord has asked us to help the downtrodden, forgive the sinners, pray often, keep away from sins and not to have envy on those who are lured by materialistic world among others. I am just trying to be true to his words as a follower and true believer in my Christian faith”
Vincent Menezes who is a parishioner of St John the Baptist parish, Kokkada, is a past Vice President and secretary of parish council. He has been a resource person at various training camps for youth and also council member of Mangaluru Parish diocese. He teaches religious classes at various schools in the area. His hobbies are singing, drama, politics and music. Married to Christine, who is a teacher, Vincent is a proud father of two girls-Vivial Shamitha and Crystal Vivitha, doing their MCom and Ist BSc respectively at St Aloysius College-Mangaluru. His dad was also a teacher, but deceased now, while his mother was also a teacher, but retired now. Vincent is a agriculturist, where the family owns coconut, palm, areca and rubber plantation.
Vincent started dressing like Santa Claus in the year 2000 and went around in the neighbourhood of Kokkada, especially during Christmas week and on Christmas Day. He used to travel around his parish and neighbourhood distributing sweets and goodies to parishioner’s families. But later decided to visit neighbouring places like Bantwal, Puttur, Shiradi, Madanthyar, Dharmastala, Uppinangady, Bantwal, Moodbidri, Kasaragod, Udupi and many other places,and has been visiting Mangaluru yearly since 2008. During last couple of days in Mangaluru, he has visited St Anthony’s Charitable Institutions, Snehasadan in Gurpur, Nympha sadan-home for the Aged, White Doves NGO, Snehalaya ashram in Talapady and others.
Clad in a perfect Santa suit, Vincent goes around in his scooter all decorated with Christmas stuff and balloons, Christmas message banner, and he plays music through two speakers fitted on his two-wheeler. He is greeted with smile and enthusiasm by people where ever he makes a stop, and then he hands out printed leaflets of Christmas message, along with candies to people of all faith and religion. When he stops at NGOs he distributes cakes to the inmates, and entertains them with Christmas carols. For the last 15 years, Vincent says that he has been wearing the same Santa suit bought at St Josephs’ Arts-Urwa in Mangaluru, but he doesn’t mind someone donating him a brand new Santa suit for next year.
NGOs/Ashrams who would like to invite Vincent Menezes aka “Santa Claus” to entertain them can do so by contacting him at : 9845696925 or send him a letter at : Vincent Menezes S/o Late Liguory Menezes, ‘Kundadka House’, Kaukrady Village, Puttur Taluq-574229