The Cooper Family Santa Story
The Reuel Cooper family has been providing special moments for children every Christmas for more than two decades. Reuel and his sons, Buddy and Billy, have either dressed as Santa or taken pictures of kids sitting on Santa’s knee in and around Lexington for many years. Reuel’s wife, Lanelle, has been there every step of the way, making costumes for their granddaughters and helping with Santa’s picturetaking opportunities, along with helping with the local Blue Santa toy gathering. Three of Reuel and Lanelle’s granddaughters, Nina, Naomi and Nichole, have dressed up as Santa’s helpers for most of those years too.
In 1986 Buddy began dressing as Santa and going to schools, day care centers, families’ homes and at Lexington’s annual Christmas event down on the Square. Helping was Nina who would dress as Mrs. Claus and go with Santa to pass out candy and goodies to the children. After a couple of years with Nina’s help, Buddy’s middle daughter, Naomi, joined the fun, dressing as a reindeer, complete with antlers and a glowing nose.
Buddy tells the story about how he and Reuel would ride a motorcycle to town dressed as Santa. One year, when Naomi was helping and riding on the back of the motorcycle, they got all the way to town and noticed that four of their dogs had followed them to the Square in downtown Lexington. They had to turn around and lead the dogs back home before returning to hear what the children wanted for Christmas.
Then, in 1999, Reuel and Lanelle’s granddaughter, Nicole, took over her sisters’ roles, dressing as Santa’s elf-helper, greeting children and passing out candy canes as the youngsters waited anxiously to sit on Santa’s knee and tell him what they wanted for Christmas.
On Saturday, December 4,2010, Nicole donned her elf suit for the last time for the Lexington Log Cabins’ Pioneer Festival of Lights. She is 18 years old now, a senior at Lexington High School and is planning to further her education in college next fall.
Despite having gone through three “helpers” so far, the Coopers aren’t worried. “I love it that my girls have all played a role in our family’s Santa tradition,” Buddy said. “Even though Nicole is retiring, we have another little helper who is anxious to get in the act.”
Buddy’s oldest granddaughter, Baylee Ramsey, 8 years old, will take over Nicole’s role as Santa’s elf next year. So a family’s tradition that began many, many years ago will continue and the community they live in and love will continue to enjoy their role-playing for many more years to come.