A pair of Topeka residents who have been dressing up as Santa and Mrs. Claus are spreading holiday cheer this December as they show up nearly every day at locations across the capital city.
David Ball, 48, and Oneita Terry, 46, said this is the first year they have dressed up in their Santa and Mrs. Claus outfits.
The pair said they have been out in costume nearly every day since Dec. 1, with Ball pushing Terry around town in her wheelchair.
They said they have one goal — to make the holidays a little brighter for Topeka-area residents.
“The people of Topeka have done a lot of nice things for us,” Terry said, “so we decided to do something nice and spread Christmas cheer to Topeka.”
Terry said she recently bought Ball a Santa suit at a local Walmart store. She said Ball returned the favor and bought her a Mrs. Claus outfit at Party America.
It was all part of a plan to take the Christmas spirit to the people of Topeka, Terry said.
“I came up with the idea,” Terry said, “and he said, ‘Yeah, let’s go for it — sounds like fun.’ So here we be — spreading cheer.”
The pair have been spotted at various locations across Topeka since Dec. 1.
“We’ve went as far as Target and Toys R Us” near S.W. 21st and Wanamaker, Terry said. “We’ve went to the Walmart on California and places in between there, so we get around.”
The couple also has traveled to North Topeka, setting up near Bradley’s Corner Cafe in the 800 block of N. Kansas Avenue in the NOTO Arts District.
No matter where they go, Terry said, they have received an enthusiastic response from those who see them.
“They love it,” she said. “They honk and wave. They smile and take pictures. They just love it.”
The couple has been out in costume nearly every day for the past couple of weeks.
“We took breaks for a couple of days,” Ball said, “but that’s about it.”
Ball said most mornings, he pushes Terry in her wheelchair from their home near S.W. 13th and Western to 8th and S. Kansas Avenue in downtown Topeka — a distance of about a mile. He said it takes them around 20 minutes to get from home to downtown.
Terry said she can walk only short distances and gets around mostly in her wheelchair. She said she has neuropathy in both legs and feet and also has lymph edema in her left leg, the result of a spider bite.
Once they make it downtown, Ball said, he and Terry go up and down the avenue, greeting people with “Merry Christmas” and waving at motorists as they pass by on Kansas Avenue.
“We walk around,” Ball said Wednesday morning, as he and Terry were taking a break at the northwest corner of 8th and S. Kansas Avenue. “We don’t sit here usually. We see a lot of people walking down here.”
If they go to other parts of town, they take a Topeka Metro bus.
People on Facebook have posted comments that they have seen Ball and Terry at various locations around town in recent days.
Terry said a Topeka police officer wished the pair “Merry Christmas over the P.A.” on a recent Sunday when they were near S.W. 21st and Wanamaker.
“Then, a little further up, they played Christmas carols at us,” she said. “They played, ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town.’ ”
Ball said another officer spotted the pair as they were near the Target store and said, “Go, Santa, go.”
Terry said she and Ball “get out as early as we can,” heading first to downtown Topeka and not calling it quits for the day until after 5 p.m.
They said they welcome children to come up and see them, and Terry said, “we’ve got peppermints to give ‘em.”
Both Ball and Terry said they didn’t know how people would receive them in their Santa-themed costumes, but based on the positive response, they plan to be out on the streets of Topeka delivering holiday cheer nearly every day until Christmas.
“And we plan to do it again next year,” Ball said.
So far, this December has been unusually warm for the most part, with highs most days in the 40s, 50s and 60s. Around 11 a.m. Wednesday, a bank thermometer at 7th and S. Kansas Avenue said it was 55 degrees.
Ball and Terry said they wear layers under their Santa and Mrs. Claus outfits to keep warm. They noted the costumes were fairly warm by themselves, so not a lot of layers have been needed to date.
Yet even if things take a turn for the colder, both said they would be out on the streets in their costumes.
“Oh, we’ll be out here,” Terry said. “We’ll be out here, no matter what — ‘til Christmas.”
Contact reporter Phil Anderson at (785) 295-1195 or @Philreports on Twitter. Like him on Facebook at facebook.com/philreports.tcj/.