The Silicon Valley Voice

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Bob Buchser, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Bob Buchser makes a big hit when he puts on his custom-made Santa Claus suit and arrives in a Lexus convertible at the Rotary Club of Santa Clara’s annual Christmas for Kids party, held at Lexus of San Jose.

“The kids are so cute. They love Santa. They say, ‘Hi,’ and they really believe in him,” said Buchser. “I try to keep their belief in Santa Claus going — the idea of giving and taking, but giving is more important.”

Buchser’s predecessor as Rotary Santa Claus, the late George Burdick, passed his Santa suit on to Buchser over 20 years ago. But the suit was worn and had thin fabric. Its black plastic belt had to be taped together.

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So Buchser asked his talented aunt from San Jose, Josephine Buchser, to make him a new suit.

“She bought the fabric and everything. I don’t think I even ever paid her,” said Buchser, a life-long Santa Clara resident. “But I’ve taken her out to many dinners. I bought a specially-made belt at a shoe shop.”

The first time he played Santa was before he ever grew a beard, Buchser reminisced. He was in a play in the 8th grade and can still recite his lines by heart:

“Howdy, Folks. Glad to see you. I had some trip tonight! The reindeers balked. The sleigh runners were rusty, but the good old sleigh was trusty. I’m mighty glad to see you!”

Buchser also used to play Santa on Christmas day for his grandchildren when they were young.

“I enjoy being Santa. Number one, my body fits the role. I have a loud voice, and I like greeting the kids. I say, ‘Merry Christmas’ to every kid,” said Buchser.

He shared a story about a close call one December as the Rotary Santa.

“A girl of about eight was sitting on my lap and pulled on my beard,” said Buchser. “My head went down, but I think she still saw that my beard wasn’t real. I had to swallow my laughter.”

Buchser, who retired from the Santa Clara Unified School District, received the 2018 Austen Warburton Community Service Award from the Mission City Community Fund.

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