Home Uncategorized The man behind the beard || Bringing joy to local children for over 50-years

The man behind the beard || Bringing joy to local children for over 50-years

by MyParisTexas
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Over the past five decades, Tony Clark has been putting smiles on children’s faces during the festive season as Santa Claus.

For as long as he can remember, Clark has wanted to play the man in the red suit who brings joy to each and everyone at Christmas.

“My dad played Santa for many years and I got to see the love and joy it gave children,” said Clark. “I am the giving kind and love nothing more than seeing kids happy.”

Born and raised in Paris, Texas, Clark first put on the famous red suit while in Elementary School.

“The first time I ever played Santa was in December 1966 for a school play at the old Rosa Pearson Elementary that was on the west side of town and is no longer here,” said Clark. 

Now over 50-years later, Clark spends almost three months a year playing the role at public events, private parties and even visiting children who are in the hospital.

“Some of the children I see have nothing,” said Clark with tears in his eyes. “I get to see both sides of the spectrum from wealthier family homes to children living in homes with no electricity.”

Regardless of who he visits or their circumstances, Clark wants nothing more than to leave them with a memory of a special time they will never forget.

“No matter what, their faces light up when they see Santa and while sometimes it’s sad to see their situations, it also makes you grateful and humbled that a small gesture like dressing up as Santa can make their whole year.”

While Clark loves nothing more than bringing joy to others, the man behind the beard has his own battles ahead.

“In September 2017 I found out I was in Stage 5 Kidney Failure,” said Clark. “I knew my kidneys were getting a little weaker, but when I went for weight loss surgery they discovered I had completely lost my kidneys.”

Clark started dialysis immediately and while things were moving along as they should, a month ago today, his heart stopped during treatment.

“On October 19th, my heart stopped beating and the nurses who started CPR on me got me back,” said Clark. “They saved my life.”

Sandra Wolfe, Elizabeth Brown and Wendy Chandler-Browning are the women Clark credits to saving his life.

“Between the nurses and paramedics, Chris Shoemate and Justin Allen, they saved me. They are my angels.”

Since that day, Clark has pushed forward harder than ever knowing the smiles he was about to bring to children’s faces.

“People book me for events starting mid-November and even through mid-January as many soldiers can’t come home for Christmas, so their families celebrate then.”

Playing the role for so long, Clark loves that he has been able to see many children grow up and have families of their own and now he visits their children as Santa.

“I get to experience watching them grow up and I get to watch their lives throughout,” said Clark. “Most of these families invite me back year after year and it’s a joy and blessing watching these kids becomes adults.”

In fact, the youngest Clark has ever seen as Santa Claus and taken pictures with is 5 hours old.

“I appreciate the trust they have in me and although dialysis can be draining three times a week for up to four hours a time, I will continue to push through to do what I love and bring joy to others.”

Thank you, Tony, for sharing your story with myparistexas.com and for all you do for the community.

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