Eau Claire (WQOW)- It may not be traditional but for over a decade, when the snow flies, Santa has swooped into the Chippewa Valley Airport... on his motorbike.
Larry Bradford joins other volunteers and military members in bringing the North Pole to Eau Claire and lighting up smiles on the faces of disabled children. This winter, 'Operation Santa' wasn't able to get off the ground but that hasn't stopped Larry from slipping on the suit. For over forty years Larry has dressed as Santa at local holiday events and also visits nursing homes.
"When I see a child put a big smile on his face when you're talking to him it just puts a smile on my face, it makes me feel good inside," says Larry. "It just makes you want to go back and volunteer again. So that's what's kept me going over the years."
And his passion for volunteering? Well you could call it, literally, a labor of love. Larry has helped construct cabins for disabled campers in state parks across Wisconsin. He travels to Hayward opening up the world of the great outdoors to people with disabilities through 'Fishing Has No Boundaries'. He volunteers for Special Olympics, Meals on Wheels and roadside clean up projects. If you need a helping hand you can count on Larry for two.
A veteran himself, Larry also spends time visiting with others who have served. Year round he puts together care packages for active military members overseas.
Though he admits some of his favorite memories come from the work he's done in his signature suit, Larry shows us all that it doesn't have to be Christmas to spread a little love and cheer.