After a long night of delivering presents, the man in the big red suit had one last stop to make the next morning: Shriners Hospitals for Children in Sacramento.
To give his reindeer a break, Old Saint Nick rode down Stockton Boulevard on a horse drawn carriage Christmas morning, 2015. From there, Santa Claus made his way on foot to the second floor of Shriners, where anxious kids were waiting.
All the good little boys and girls, forced to spend Christmas in the hospital, unwrapped their gifts as parents and loved ones stood by with smiles on their faces.
Many of the kids are recovering from serious injuries and illnesses, but organizers of the Christmas at Shriners Hospital Parade said Friday was all about enjoying the holiday with a childlike wonder.
“Santa Claus came in and brought me a boat,” said Shriner Chester Fristoe. “I was 10 years old at the time.”
Fristoe was once a Shriners patient, and he said the joyous experience he had while meeting Santa in the hospital in 1967 inspired him to become a Shriner as an adult.
"To see the kids here, and to be here with everybody has just been a blessing, and to me is what Christmas is all about,” said Fristoe. “I'll do this the rest of my life."
Shriners hospitals were first operated in the 1920s to help children battle polio. After the disease was eradicated, the hospitals began providing a wider range of pediatric orthopedic care. There are now 22 non-profit medical facilities across North America. The Shriners Hospital for Children in Sacramento provides care to kids all throughout Northern California.