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Long-time Arkansas Medicaid Employee is a Merry SoulDate: 07/13/2016
Rick Daes, as Santa, helps the Little Rock Fire Department personnel deliver toys the department collects for DHS foster children. Rick, a state employee since 1989, is a health facility surveyor with the DHS Office of Long Term Care.
He has been playing Santa for more than 20 years since a friend first asked him don the red suit for his church Christmas party. Rick got to keep the suit, the one he still wears, and he often took it with him as when he inspected nursing homes around the state and dropped in as Santa at Christmas parties at the facilities. Over the years, he lost count of how many times he made appearances as the big guy between Thanksgiving and Christmas
A few years ago, the DHS Division of Children and Family Services asked him to be their Santa for the annual Little Rock Fire Department toy parade in Little Rock. He starts letting his naturally white beard grow out after Labor Day to prepare for his annual role. He says it’s not unusual for children to give him a second look in restaurants and other public places as they try to figure out if he’s “the real Santa.”
Photos: (Top) Rick riding in an antique fire truck along Main Street in Little Rock. (Bottom) Santa talks with DCFS employee Velma Sorrows.