“Houston’s Pancho Claus”
1952 – Current
International Santa Claus Hall of Fame – December 2021
Richard Reyes is no ordinary Kris Kringle. A Houstonian Santa unlike any other, dressed in a bright red and black zoot suit with a fedora, Pancho Claus has helped thousands of disadvantaged children to feel the joy of Christmas, bringing gifts and throwing colorful seasonal parties that their low-income parents could not afford.
He does not come the night before Christmas in a miniature sleigh with reindeer like St. Nick, but instead parades along city streets with an equally number of low-riders, often surrounded by a festive jazz band.
Reyes who plays the Latino St. Nick character coordinates toy drives and deliveries for Christmas all year long.
The character of Pancho Claus the Tex-Mex Santa grew out of the Chicano civil rights movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s and is sometimes referred to as Santa Claus’ cousin from the South Pole.
The Pancho Claus legend that’s often replicated in other barrios across the United Sates, but Reyes version is the best known and he has held it down for Houston for 40 years beginning in the early 1980s.