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Here Comes Santa Claus!

A little more about BYC traditions. Santa Claus arrives at Berkeley Yacht Club each year not by a sleigh and eight tiny reindeer but by water. This year, he'll be arriving on Sunday, December 17, to attend our BYC Holiday Party.

How long ago did it start? I don’t know. I have photos back to 1977 and many NHT stories each year. In 1977 Santa arrived by power boat and delivered presents to kids on the deck. Santa’s helper is a mystery and so is his sleigh. Can anyone help me out with who Santa is and/or his sleigh? So I started to ask a few questions about how Santa arrived, as we have only been members for the last twenty-five (25) years and have seen Santa arrive by a little tugboat, a beautifully decorated powerboat and many different types and sizes of sailboats.

And as we all know Santa can’t be everywhere especially in the middle of December so he must rely on helpers. Those helpers must look the part. Back some twenty-five years ago Santa’s famous red suit was crafted by our own Larraine Salmon as well as Ms. Claus. Ed Vail was the first Santa that I remember as a new member. I talked to Ed Vail, who was Santa’s helper prior to 1999 when Bob Gray started as Santa’s helper. Ed said, “We arrived on Staff Commodore John Altberg’s (don’t call it cute) 26 ft. Nordic Tug. I think that in previous years Staff Commodore Ted Fallas’s boat was used (40 ft. Newport I believe) and he was able to fly a spinnaker. Staff Commodore John Altberg decided that flying a spinnaker in front of the Club could be embarrassing if the take-down ended in the water, so he decided to use his tug.”

Over the years, we have had to purchase new Santa beards because the old ones were in sad shape and we didn’t want to frighten the children. And Santa’s suits have been replaced over time as Santa’s shape has changed.

Some things have never changed and that is the invitation still goes out in the NHT saying, “Bring your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or the cute tot next door or just come and enjoy the smiling faces of other members’ kids. And you should bring a gift for the children and/or guests. Please make sure the recipient is clearly identified.”

Some years the party has included a potluck reckless (whatever you want to bring) or with assignments by last name. More recently, the club has provided the party food. Entertainment has included magicians, balloon animals, face painting, decorating ornaments, singing Christmas carols and one of my favorites—the Christmas ukulele band lead by Pat Lowther.

Elves come in all sizes, but some elves have helped Santa for many years from young believers to young adults. They help Santa with the handing out gifts to our cheerful takers. Santa enjoys seeing kids of all ages.

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