ST. GEORGE, Utah — Though the real Mr. and Mrs. Clause have been married for some time, a man who plays Santa professionally and his “Mrs. Clause,” finally got engaged, after knowing each other for 40 years.
Kris Kringle, AKA Troy Thode, and Cheryl Hawker first met at Dixie Middle School in St. George in 1978.
Thode said he always liked Hawker and asked her out multiple times, but the two didn’t connect on a romantic level until many years later.
“I had a crush on her and I asked her out,” Thode said. “And lo and behold, her dad wouldn’t like that.”
Hawker told Thode “no” initially, but the two remained friends throughout the years. Thode said he even played Santa at one of Hawker’s family parties.
After staying in touch and realizing that they were both single, a few months ago the two finally got to go out on a first date.
One thing led to another, and Thode proposed to Hawker while the two were in costume.
“I actually haven’t missed a year of playing Santa Claus since I was 13,” Thode said, “Including two years on an LDS mission.”
Thode started off as Santa helping his dad deliver oranges in St. George. He said he loves the light kids get in their eyes when Santa comes in the room.
“It’s so special,” Hawker said. “There’s nothing that can replace that feeling, bringing the joy and seeing the light in their eyes, knowing that they know the real Santa.”
As for this Mr. and Mrs. Claus, they said they plan to continue dressing up together and bringing holiday cheer. No word on if they will spend their honeymoon on the North Pole, or somewhere a little warmer.