PLATTSBURGH — Ron Wood was a teenager in 1955 when his history teacher, Frank Cooper, asked him to don a Santa outfit and "Ho-Ho-Ho" for the kiddies.
He borrowed a red Santa suit from Kresge's Department Store in Plattsburgh, but his slender physique required him to tuck a pillow into the jacket, which slipped with the first "Ho."
At another appearance, his "reindeer," including friend Jim Andre on roller skates, pulled the sleigh so fast it clipped the wall, jostling Santa and sleigh. Santa's appearances since those early days have been much more refined.
SINGING SANTA FAMILY
After an Army stint, he married his wife, Sharon, and the Woods family increased by three — Cindy, Michelle and Ron II. Thus, they became the Singing Santa Family.
Fifty years later, Singing Santa Ron is still sharing Christmas fun and music, with another generation.
"The school kids from the '50s and '60s now have grandchildren and great-grandchildren," he said from his easy chair. "It's wonderful!"
The Woods children were young when they joined their dad and mom at performances. Cindy was named "Snowball," Michelle was "Snowflake," Ron II took the name "Popcorn," and Sharon, of course, was Mrs. Claus. It was a grand production to pull together.
"I don't know how Sharon did it all those years when we were all together," he said, smiling at his wife. "She'd glue on my eyebrows and custom beard in one part of the house, I'd head out the door, then she'd get the kids dressed and then get herself ready, and we'd all get there on time."
Ron said Sharon plays a very important role as Mrs. Claus. She sings the harmony with Ron, who plays Christmas songs on ukulele, and reads stories. A former school teacher, she has a natural ability to understand the children and keep their attention, telling them special Christmas tales.