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Wild horses — or a pandemic — will not keep Eddie Brookman away from his passion – making people happy.
For the 39th year, Brookman will continue his annual tradition of bringing Santa Claus to town and passing out treats to the children on Saturday.
“The only reason I’m going early this year is because of COVID-19,” Brookman said.
Normally, Brookman heads out somewhere around the middle of the month. However, positive cases building on the mainland had him worried and he doesn’t want people to miss it. Over a few days, he had received upwards of 40 calls from people asking if he would be going out this year.
“With no Santa Claus parades this year it was more important than ever I go out,” he said.
Brookman said he knows this means a lot to not only the kids but the adults that love seeing the horse, for many bringing back memories of the horse and buggy days.
“I know doing this is going to cheer a lot of people up even though we have COVID-19,” he said.
“Santa will even have a mask on under his beard. Everyone else has to wear one so Santa will be wearing one too.”
On Saturday, Brookman said he will be leaving his mother’s place on Seaview Street at about 9:15 a.m. and will go from Disco Street onto Victoria Road and over to the Ashby Legion. Then will turn down and do the route back again.
Santa not only stops with treats but for photos.
It’s a lifelong passion he might have been born with.
Brookman, who has been involved with horses since he was 12-years-old, remembers as a little boy seeing Santa Claus being taken through the community on a fire truck and thought he’d like to do that but felt it should be with a horse and wagon.
Then 39 years ago, Brookman said friend Paul Whelan suggested he go to Wentworth Park as Santa with his horse and sulky for wedding pictures. Brookman didn’t go but the idea evolved into the community trek. It took off from the beginning, as Brookman would even give out little candy bags. Last year, he had 320 treat bags, ran out at the Whitney Pier playground and had to go back for more.
“I told them to wait where they were, and Santa would go back and get them a treat,” he said. “I came back and they were all there waiting.”
This year, Brookman is preparing 350 bags. Long-time helper elf Jessie Pearson will also be along. Brookman said with no Santa Claus parade he figures there will be a good crowd and doesn’t want to run out.
Whelan commended what Brookman does, adding for many years he’d actually go from South Bar to Ashby, which would take about six hours.
“He’s quite a gentleman, this guy,” Whelan said, patting Brookman on the back. “He has got a heart bigger than anyone I’ve ever met.”
However, Brookman cut in and said Whelan has been there assisting since the beginning and is a big part of it.
“We’re kindred spirits, “Whelan added.
NEXT YEAR MIGHT BE BROOKMAN'S LAST
Which horse will be accompanying Brookman is not known yet. His beloved King Is Crowned died last year at age 34 and another horse planned for the trek isn’t available now.
“I’m hoping I can get one but Santa will be doing the trek even if it’s by foot,” he said.
Next year will mark the big 40th trek, which Brookman hinted might end up being his last. He confirmed he might be looking at only getting one more under his belt before hanging his big black boots up.
“It’s not official yet but I’m talking really strongly about it,” he said.
However, this year with the pandemic he said people need this and his concentration is putting some bright lights into the tough days.
“All I can say is, ‘Here comes Santa Claus, Here comes Santa Claus, down Santa Claus Lane,” Brookman said in a jolly tone. “I’m hoping to put a lot of Santa Claus smiles on a lot of people Saturday.”
Sharon-Montgomery-Dupe is the enterprise reporter at the Cape Breton Post.