A Massachusetts man who has donned the Santa suit and beard for 50 years is asking for help as he battles a brain tumor.
Fitchburg resident Bud Goguen takes Christmas to a whole new level, visiting churches, schools and country clubs for as long as he can remember. The tradition started with his own family. Goguen doesn’t have any kids, so he said as a single uncle he dressed up for his nieces and nephews.
His first suit was a flannel suit.
"If I wore that now I would look like a street Santa," said Goguen.
He still remembers his brother telling him in French, their native language, that he needs to change his voice while playing Santa for the children. The French word for voice and life sound oddly similar. Goguen thought his brother said he needed to change his life. Looking back, Goguen sees how ironic and fitting that mix-up is. Being Santa started that day and has never ended.
Now his suit is a red velvet sharp getup, and his natural white beard flows perfectly.
"As a kid I remember tugging at it to make sure it was real," said Timothy Stewart, Goguen’s nephew. "Having an uncle that you thought was the real Santa Claus was awesome."
It’s a Christmas memory his nephew now shares with his daughter Emma. The tradition spread from family to strangers booking dozens of gigs all over Fitchburg.
"So many generations touching so many lives, it’s cool being related to someone like that," said Stewart.
Everyone knows this Santa, including Neal Cafferky, a member of the Oak Hill Country Club.
"He comes in in a big yellow helicopter and he lands over there and all the kids get excited to see him," said Cafferky.
Others hope their kids can get a glimpse at their favorite childhood celebrity.
"We’re going next Sunday," said Emily Morin, who’s bringing her son Jack to see Santa. "I am very grateful Jack will get to see him one more time."
Goguen had to trade in his sleigh for a wheelchair three months ago.
"I feel good. I feel alright. Other than this brain tumor that causes me to fall," said Goguen.
His love for the holidays trumps his setback with his tumor. He’s decided to keep three of his gigs. The venues offering to pick him up and drop him off since the doctor has ordered him not to drive anymore.
All Goguen wants for Christmas is one more to time to bring the holiday magic to others.
"People are in awe and it’s a funny feeling and it gives me a funny feeling that’s how moving it is," said Goguen.
Goguen’s family is asking people to send him Christmas cards to help keep his spirits up this holiday to the River Terrace Rehabilitation and Healthcare center in Lancaster.
You can send cards to:
Bud Goguen/Santa Claus
1675 Main Street
Lancaster, MA 01523