Cancer takes "Santa Dan" from his seat at Southdale

6:59 PM, Dec 15, 2007   |    comments
Lots of Gadgets in his 2010 sack
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The wooden chair at his kitchen table is not the one "Santa Dan" is supposed to be occupying eleven days before Christmas. "No, I'm supposed to be at Southdale," he says. Southdale mall has been has been Dan's holiday home going back six years, and Rosedale and Burnsville malls before that. "It's just a wonderful feeling," says Dan. He's talking about the kids of course. The cancer he could do without. Last Christmas "Santa Dan" stayed home, still recovering from the pancreatic cancer for which he'd undergone chemotherapy months earlier. This year when the cancer came back in his lymph nodes and bladder, he asked for chemo that wouldn't take his beard. He wanted to be back at the mall. "I couldn't see missing a season," he says, "but I did. Missed one season, now I'm missing part of another." Dan started his season at Southdale in early November. But 80 pounds lighter, tired and sick from chemo, he gave up his honored seat at the mall last week. "In their mercy they decided to let me go," he says, "and I'm glad they did now, because I would have been miserable." Dan says he is grateful that the mall's Santa contractor will be paying his salary though the end of the season, and sent him off with an invitation to return next year. Though he won't be at Southdale, Dan has been Santa too many years in too public a way, to stop being Santa now. "We live the part," he says, dressed in Christmas shirt sewed by his wife. Santa Dan's image has been seen on billboards and in advertising throughout the country. "I'm especially flattered by all the e-mails that are coming in and say 'we wish you were there and we miss you,'" For a change, we asked Santa Dan what he wants for Christmas this year. "I don't want a thing," he said. "I already have my Christmas present. I have my life."

By Boyd Huppert, KARE 11 News

(Copyright 2007 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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