Looking at his property at 322 N. 9th St. in the daytime can’t do justice to the Winter Wonderland Christmas spectacular that Aransas Pass resident Allen Bolenbarker is known to set up between November and December each year. If you missed it, and many didn’t even know it exists, the 69-year-old retiree promises it will return for the 30th time. Known as the North 9th St. Santa (his Facebook page is North 9th St Santa Aransas Pass), Bolenbarker has delighted untold thousands of children from near and far for nearly three decades, buying gifts for each he gives away for free – as any true Santa would – because of his passion for putting smiles on their faces. A Vietnam-era veteran, he served as a Sergeant in the U.S. Army between 1972-1978. He’s never asked for outside donors but has graciously accepted toys or monetary gifts completely unsolicited from other do-gooders who support what he does out of the kindness of his own heart. “There are people in town that have no idea I do this,” Bolenbarker said, often encountering adults who have returned to visit his display that first came as children themselves. “It’s all about the kids,” he added, uncertain how many strings of lights he’s added year after year. A giant reindeer is so lifelike, some have asked permission if they can pet it. Frigid cold temperatures near the end of this past holiday and a bout with illness shortened Bolenbarker’s 2022 schedule, but few seemed to mind, estimating he entertained well over 100 visitors each night when he was on hand. Reminded of at least one special request he’d received from the parent of a four-year-old girl who’d been discharged from Driscoll Children’s Hospital after being treated for pneumonia brings tears to Bolenbarker’s eyes. As Santa, he drove to the family’s home, a special treat for the child who had been so very sick. The memory still chokes him up, thinking about the true gift of Christmas he hopes to continue to give if he’s able.
Aransas Pass Progress
Wed, 01/11/2023 - 4:00am