Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus—and he’s a 68-year-old city councilman who lives in North Pole, Alaska.
The tiny town, population 2200, is a real place, located 14 miles away from Fairbanks. The residents recently elected the whimsically-named local to a three-year term. Claus was one of two write-in candidates for two vacant seats, Reuters reports, and he’ll take office on October 26—giving him plenty of time to take care of official bureaucratic business before Christmas arrives.
According to the Alaska Daily News, the rosy-cheeked, white-bearded resident was once named Thomas Patrick O'Connor. And like the original Santa, he also has a curious and colorful origin story. Born in Washington, D.C., Claus is a former Anglican monk who lived all over the country before settling in North Pole two years ago. Recently, he resided in Nevada, where he worked as an advocate for children’s protective services. Claus has served as a New York police official, and he’s run for president twice as a write-in candidate. Before joining North Pole’s city council, he was also president of the town’s Chamber of Commerce.
About 10 years ago, the former Mr. O’Connor legally changed his name to “Santa Claus.” He says that the holiday persona he’s adopted helps him garner attention from legislators and the media, allowing him to campaign for legislation that will help protect children’s health and safety. Eventually, he decided to complete his transformation from Tom O’Connor to Santa Claus by moving to North Pole in 2013. And yes, Claus did campaign for the election by wearing a red velvet suit while holding a campaign sign that read: "Where the spirit of Christmas lives year round."