While Christmas might be a little different this year, Don and Karen Trumbull are continuing a decades-long tradition of bringing Mr. and Mrs. Claus to life in Moriarty.
Don Trumbull said he’s played Santa Claus for the Moriarty Lion’s Club for the last 30 years, while his wife Karen has played Mrs. Claus for the last decade.
Most years, the Lion’s Club sets up in Crossley Park, where kids can sit on Santa’s lap, give him their Christmas wish list and take a photo, but that can’t happen this year because of Covid, Trumbull said.
“[The Lion’s Club] is going to have people drive by and drive around the building there, and [the club] is going to go out and find out how many kids they have, and then they’ll go back and get the toys and take them out to them,” he said. “Santa and Mrs. Claus are going to sit in the doorway and they’re going be waving to the kids but that’s as close as we can get them.”
Santos Tapia, owner of Shorty’s, said he’s only been a member of the Lion’s Club for the past four years, but volunteered with them for the seven years prior, and gets to see just how hard Don and Karen work for the community.
“The Trumbulls are great folks for the community, you know, they’ve been in charge and been a party of the Lion’s Club I couldn’t tell you how many years,” he said. “Don and Karen just have such a heart for the Lion’s Club and whatever they put their effort into. If it’s doing the pancake breakfasts during the Fourth of July, and the Pinto Bean Fiesta, and parades and stuff. They would open up the Lion’s Club to do pancakes for those. Of course, they’ve always done a first responder law enforcement dinner every year also around this time just to appreciate those who are in public service. Without Don and Karen’s leadership, none of this would really happen without them.”
Moriarty Mayor Ted Hart said it was Don Trumbull that brought back the lighting of Crossley Park around Christmas time.
“We light our park every year now, and he’s the one that brought that back, him and his wife started that, gosh, at least eight to ten years ago, I think it’s been ten years we’ve done it,” he said. “I’ve seen him out there in the middle of a snowstorm putting up lights, and now Santos and Leanne [Tapia] have kind of taken it from him, because he’s getting a little old to be up on the ladder, but he’s still involved—the guy won’t stop.”
Tapia said he’s helped Don with lighting the park for a few years before he took over the decorating, but said without Don, a lot of things wouldn’t happen in the community.
Linda Smith, Director of Bethel Community Storehouse, said she can’t imagine the community without the Trumbulls.
“They are so community minded; they are so full of love, they don’t think of themselves,” she said. “They’ve always thought about the kids, the club, the community. [Don] has been our Santa for years and years—they’re like pillars of the community. I was so happy to see in the paper that they’re going to do a drive-through at least, I thought that was awesome. Our community is so much better because of them and their efforts for all these years.”
Tapia said he and his family work closely with the Trumbulls to make sure the Mr. and Mrs. Claus event is a success every year.
“Each year I have to sit on [Don’s] lap even though I’m an adult,” Tapia said. “He always wants me to sit on his lap and tell him what I want for Christmas, and that’s just the relationship that I have with Don. My kids, what they’ve done with Don and Karen is that my business, of course, I own Shorty’s Bar Be Cue, we would donate hot chocolate, so my kids and my wife would that evening give out hot chocolate to those who want hot chocolate.”
Hart said while his kids were older when Don Trumbull started playing Santa, he and his wife have gone on their own to experience the Christmas cheer the Trumbulls bring.
“I think he’s an awesome person for what he does. He’s very humble about what he does, he doesn’t say a lot about it but, I don’t know how many kids have sat on the poor guy’s lap,” Hart said. “I even sat on his lap one year as mayor. The guy is very humble about what he does but he does it for the community. He’s a great person. I have nothing but compliments for that guy.”
Trumbull said he has a very simple reason why he’s continued to be Santa for all these years: the kids.
“Seeing how happy it makes the kids … and seeing the big smile on the kids’ face when they get to see Santa and get a toy,” he said.
Smith said Trumbull has always been one of the best Santas, always happy, and “just like you’d think of Santa.”
Trumbull said he wants to continue being Santa for as long as he can. “As long as they want me,” he said. “I just turned 72, so who knows, maybe another 10 years hopefully.”
The toy drive-through will be held at the Moriarty Lion’s Club on Sunday, Dec. 13 starting at 10 a.m.
Trumbull said the event will go until the last child has gotten a toy, or until they run out.
Shorty’s Bar Be Cue is accepting toys for the event until Saturday Dec. 12 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
For more information on the Moriarty Lion’s Club, find them on Facebook.