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An Age-Old Tradition Takes a 2020 Twist

Happy boys and girls at the Early Learning Center (ELC) at Gregory Hill had a very jolly guest join them from the North Pole via Zoom on Dec. 15. (If you looked closely he resembled someone well known in WPS)

The one and only Santa Claus greeted students in Ms. Christine Cruz’s preschool class with a hearty, “Ho, Ho, Ho!”, before reading them the classic, The Night Before Christmas. Later, students had the opportunity to share their artwork with Santa, each preschooler drew something they wanted for the holidays.

“Although many of our holiday traditions will look different this year, it was important to me to help bring our students some hope and joy,” said ELC Principal, Jennifer Keyes. “After much thought about how to organize a virtual visit from Santa, I knew Mr. Dennis Mulcare was the perfect person to help pull off this event.”

Mr. Mulcare was a lifelong early childhood educator of over 45 years. He joined the district in the late ‘90s and just recently retired in the spring of 2020. 

“Dennis is a truly gifted storyteller and was arguably the most popular teacher at ELC for two decades,” added Keyes.

Mulcare jokes that he is the oldest preschooler in history to graduate.

“This year has been a very challenging time for everyone and in particular for our families in the district. My hope is to bring a little light into the darkness of the times even if for only a few minutes. We all need a little Santa in our lives and hopefully, I can fill that role. I hope the children know how much they are loved,” he added.

Mulcare played many roles in his 18 years at WPS such as Humpty Dumpty, the Big Bad Wolf, Billy Goat Gruff and even Goldilocks, but never Santa. 

“I think the main reason for that is the children would recognize me too easily,” said Mulcare. “As a matter of fact, when Santa would visit the Early Learning Center the teachers would often ask me to poke my head in when Santa was present so as to convince the children it wasn’t me, so this is my maiden voyage into the Santa world.”

Watch the video above to see how Santa spread some virtual holiday cheer this year!