Milwaukie Santa survives COVID, moves to Oregon City

Clackamas County

COURTESY PHOTO: OC SANTA – Keith McDonley, the Oregon City Santa, offers free photos and gifts to children in the community.

PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — Keith McDonley, known as Milwaukie Santa for the past 11 years, has become the Oregon City Santa this year.

McDonley said he was hospitalized with COVID-19 on July 4 and intubated on his 34th birthday on July 22. After 62 days in the hospital, he was released in a wheelchair and on oxygen in September.

COURTESY PHOTO: OC SANTA – One of the many cards Keith McDonley received from people around the country, while battling COVID-19 in the intensive care unit, says, ‘Sleigh Covid.’

“I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to continue my Christmas magic for the community, as I was barely able to climb stairs or stand on my own when I was released,” McDonley said. “I’m now off oxygen, walking, climbing stairs and back to spreading Christmas cheer while helping local families in need.”

McDonley declined to answer any other health questions, saying he wanted this to be a positive story to show how far he’s come from death’s door to sharing Santa’s magic with his new community. He referenced the classic Christmas story “The Year Without a Santa Claus” as inspiration, since the story is about how Santa is able to rally with the help of his elves and Mrs. Claus.

“No matter how down and out you become, no matter what shape you are in, you can still bounce back, get back on your own two feet and help your fellow man,” he said.

McDonley has been spreading Christmas cheer from his home driveway for a couple hours nightly leading up to Christmas Eve over the past decade. He posts free photos with families to Facebook. He also collects gifts and gives them away to families in need.

McDonley will be standing in his driveway dressed as Santa Claus nightly 5-6:30 p.m. through Christmas Eve at 781 Linn Ave., Oregon City.

Portland Tribune and its parent, Pamplin Media Group, are KOIN 6 news partners.

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