Santa Larry Is Coming To Town

Dec 14, 2023

His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow . . .

He had a broad face and a little round belly,
that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

–  Clement Clarke Moore, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Though written in the mid-19th century, Clement Moore’s poem accurately characterizes Kentucky Truck Plant employee Laurence Morris, better known as Santa Larry. Morris, an Army veteran and 25-year truck plant employee, spends most of the year in repair as a door fitter on Chassis 2. For the past five years, however, Larry has used his five weeks of vacation at the end of the year to play a beloved mall Santa “for the joy it brings to others,” he said.

Santa Larry in his robe and old-world Santa suit Click to Enlarge

Putting on the suit to get out of a jam

Santa Larry first donned a red robe when he couldn’t find a Santa for his son’s Cub Scout troop. Not wanting to disappoint the boys and having a real beard, Morris decided to purchase his first Santa suit. What began as simple gesture of support has turned into a lifelong passion. For 31 years now, Morris has delighted children of all ages (the youngest just three days old and the oldest 100) with his portrayal of a quintessential Santa. Whether he’s wearing a traditional red suit or an old-world one, children trust the kindhearted, bespectacled man with a beard as white as snow to deliver on Christmas morning.

Santa Larry sits on an oversizedchair surrounded by Christmas trees Click to Enlarge

Santa the lifesaver

Larry’s good nature and compassion draw in people — even saving one woman’s life. After noticing a middle-aged woman several times at a mall one holiday season, Santa Larry waved to her and asked if she would like something for Christmas. The shy woman responded with a no thank you and quickly retreated. The following day, Larry was surprised to see her back. This time, a more confident woman approached saying, “God bless you.” She then shared her story that the previous day was the first time she had been out of her house in three months. Suffering from several challenges, she was contemplating suicide when Larry spoke to her. His acknowledgment inspired hope and she knew everything would be okay. Larry said that was one of the most rewarding days of his life.

Larry works on a truck on the assembly line while wearing a Christmas-themed outfit Click to Enlarge

Santa doesn’t skip the plant

Larry also brings Christmas cheer to the plant. David Canary, Chassis 1 repair, notes Morris is his amiable yet quiet coworker from January through June. But, once Christmas in July begins, those blue eyes begin to sparkle brighter, kicking off his annual transformation into Santa Larry. Tailgate fitter Tony Sloan added he is jolly and really plays the part well. His beaming “ho, ho, ho” can bring a smile to anyone.

For those tracking Santa’s status this year, you can find Morris spreading holiday magic at the Chicago Ridge Mall through Christmas Eve. In addition to working malls in various cities, Santa Larry has appeared in videos and at private functions. As a journeyman, he will close out 2023 back at Kentucky Truck working over shutdown.

For this writer, it is a thrill to be able to say,

"Santa! Oh my God! Santa, here?! I know him! I know him!” –  Buddy the Elf