Santa Lifts South Mississippi Spirits

When you see the wave, the caring eyes, and the red hat perched on a mass of white locks, you know it can only be one guy - Old St. Nick.

And he made an appearance Saturday afternoon in front of Gift Gallery at Debuys and Pass Roads.

His job- to simply wave at passersby, but little did he know his mere presence brought a little holiday cheer back to a wounded community.

"Oh, it's uplifting because we lost our home and it's a little depressing during the holidays but we're trying to stay in the Christmas spirit, my family and I. Santa has helped," said Ann Ryan of Long Beach.

He helped to lift quite a few spirits, especially those of South Mississippi children, and the intersection quickly turned into a place where their Christmas wishes were made known.

"We came down to stop at another store and when we were driving by, the kids saw Santa Claus. They spotted him before I ever saw him, and I promised them if they were good that we would come back and see Santa, so they came back. It's nice to have something good to look forward to, and it takes their mind off of the bad things that they see around," said parent Chris Rhodes.

"Of everything that's going on in the last couple of months, they need some realization. I mean, they need to know that things are getting back to normal and they need to know that everybody needs to be happy. Everybody needs to love each other and we just need to come together and try to rebuild and make things better," said parent Linda Walker.

And the sight of one man may help South Mississippi to continue doing just that.