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Santa visits HomeStreet Bank for Food Bank
MARYSVILLE — Santa Claus and his lookalikes are no strangers to storefronts during the holiday season, but the Santa who appeared at the Marysville branch of HomeStreet Bank on State Avenue on Dec. 17 might have seemed a bit more authentic than most, right down to the white hair of his real beard.
“I’ve been banking here at HomeStreet for several years,” said Patrick Murphy, a.k.a. St. Nick, who’s been dressing as the jolly old elf for the past two decades or more. “The branch manager asked if I’d come in to pose for photos, to help collect food and toys for the Marysville Community Food Bank.”
“When we thought of doing Santa pictures, to promote our ‘Giving Tree’ for the food bank’s holiday toy store, one of our employees said, ‘I know exactly the guy,’” said Kirstin Tyner, manager of the Marysville branch of HomeStreet Bank. “We even have a fireplace in our front lobby, so it’s a perfect fit.”
Rita Henry does double-duty as an employee of the Marysville HomeStreet Bank and as chair of the ad-hoc committee for the toy store, and she was thrilled to have Murphy bringing his twinkling eyes and belly-shaking laughter to HomeStreet for the afternoon of Dec. 17.
“This is one of the best collection years we’ve had, here at HomeStreet and in general,” Henry said that day. “We’ve got about 50 gifts under our tree, and a red barrel full of food that needs to be weighed. Our customers have been very generous.”
HomeStreet Bank wasn’t the only location in Marysville where Murphy was set to spread his seasonal spirit, since he was also scheduled to appear at Marysville-Pilchuck High School and Marysville Mountain View High School during that week.
“It all started about 20 years ago, when I was driving north on State Avenue, wearing a red fleece and hat,” Murphy said. “There were these kids in the car in front of me, sitting in the back of this station wagon, and I kept seeing their little heads pop up to look at me, and when they did a little wave, I realized they’d mistaken me for Santa, so I’ve decided to be Santa ever since.”
Murphy cherishes the enthusiastic reactions he receives from children and parents alike, and has become very well-versed in the latest trends in Christmas wish-lists among young people.
“I get asked for a lot of Matchbox cars and Barbies,” Murphy said. “Legos are still very popular. I had one girl ask me for a Dragon, and I didn’t realize she was asking for the speech recognition software, so I said, ‘Well, we’re fresh out of dragons, but I might have some snakes,’” he laughed. “Most of the kids are pretty realistic in the gifts they’re asking for.”
To Murphy, the material gifts of the season are far less important than the joy that he can help share with others.
“I do it for the smiles,” Murphy said. “There’s so much sadness in the world that I love being able to bring cheer to people. I get as much pleasure out of it as they do. It’s such a blessing.”