Santa Claus is coming to town with wad of $100 bills

Wed Dec 15, 2010 3:04pm EST
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KANSAS CITY (Reuters) - You better watch out 'cause Santa Claus is coming to town -- with a wad of $100 bills.

Someone dressed as Santa has been sighted in poor neighborhoods of Kansas City in the past week giving away cash to unsuspecting strangers, escorted by police and a crew of "elves."

The anonymous benefactor took over from Larry Stewart, the original Secret Santa, who gave away over $1.5 million over 26 years before dying of cancer in 2007, according to Stewart friend and Kansas City Fire Department Captain Ray Wynn.

Wynn is now part of the Society of Secret Santas, an organization that helps others who want to give away their cash anonymously as Santa Claus. Stewart, who was once broke but ultimately made a fortune in the cable television industry, trained other wannabe Santas.

Secret Santas are operating in St. Louis, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Detroit, Tulsa and Charlotte, Wynn said.

"People are struggling out there," Wynn said on Wednesday in an interview. "There's never been a better time to give out money than now and we are all carrying on Larry's tradition."

"Larry provided the blueprint and I'm the luckiest guy in the world to be part of this tradition," Wynn said.

The new Kansas City Santa once worked as one of Stewart's "elves" and was prepared to give away about $40,000, helping the homeless, the ill and the poor, Wynn said.

"He was in here a week ago, handing out his money to shoppers," Pam Roseburgh of the St. Vincent De Paul thrift store in Kansas City said.   Continued...

<p>A man dressed in a Santa Claus costume waits for the start of the annual meeting of participants of a university rent-a-Santa Claus service in Berlin November 27, 2010. Some 100 people in Santa Claus and fairy costumes met on Saturday in Berlin for a general meeting to launch the annual Student Union charitable Santa Claus rental campaign. REUTERS/Thomas Peter</p>