ROY MAYNARD, email@example.com
Santa will make an early appearance in Lindale on Saturday - but on horseback. Santa and his elves will ride through the four quadrants of Lindale's downtown and residential districts from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with stopovers at Picker's Pavilion and Pool Parks.
Lindale officials urge children to keep an eye out for Santa, who will stop and give gifts and blessings to children throughout the city on his ride.
"Children don't play outside anymore," said Seong MacLaren, Lindale's director of Downtown Development & Tourism. "So he would like to see children playing in their yards; he'll be giving out rewards for that. He wants to be a blessing to as many kids as possible."
About 20 riders will accompany Santa, along with pickups filled with goodies, Ms. McLaren said.
Mike Tuttle, a relatively new Lindale resident, has some inside knowledge of Saturday's ride.
"Everybody loves Santa, and everyone loves horses," Tuttle said. "It's not every day you get to see them together. So it's going to be a fun time. There will be tons of candy, and I think the kids will really enjoy it."
The city will be divided into quarters for the ride, with the center at U.S. Highway 69 and Farm Road 16. Santa will start in the northwest quadrant at 10 a.m. He'll move on to the northeast quadrant at 11:45 a.m. From 12:45 to 1:45 p.m., he'll be at Picker's Pavilion for a brief rest (though he'll still visit with children). Santa will resume his ride at 1:45 p.m. in the southeast quadrant. From 3:15 to 4 p.m. he'll be at Pool Park. And them from 4 to 5 p.m., he'll ride through the southwest quadrant.
Ms. MacLaren said Tuttle has been a real asset to the city of Lindale.
"Mike is Lindale's very own Santa, but he's also just an incredible steward and servant to the community," she said. "He always has a willing heart to help us, whether it's community events like this or things for the police department. God has blessed him, and he's intent on sharing that."
But he doesn't seek attention, she added.
What's beautiful about him is his heart," Ms. MacLaren said. "He's very humble, no matter how much he does or gives. He doesn't like recognition; he does it, because that's how he is. That's how God has wired him."
Tuttle came to Lindale about three years ago from the Dallas area. This is the third year he's overseen the Santa visit on horseback.