Milwaukie Santa brings Christmas cheer, toys for families


Keith McDonley has donned the red suit for 10 years, from his driveway

MILWAUKIE, Ore. (KOIN) — He’s called the Milwaukie Santa. For 10 years, Keith McDonley has donned the iconic red suit and set up shop in his driveway for families to take their kids to for photos.

Since those humble beginnings of waving at passing motorists from his sidewalk, McDonley said the yearly event has accumulated a lot of community support.

“It’s grown over the years. It’s become a Christmas tradition for many and that’s magical to know–something that started out so small could be so big 10 years later,” he said.

This year McDonley is collecting toys for 80 local families with the help of community members and partnering agencies, of which 30 families are being sponsored to specifically have their children’s Christmas wish-lists fulfilled. Christmas trees at just $15 a pop, and free for the sponsored families, are also part of the celebrations.

Santa’s Elves, who are local volunteers, help to make sure the event runs smoothly.

In addition, one of two historic chairs from Meier & Frank department store in downtown Portland was purchased through community contributions this year. The chair was used in the store’s beloved Santaland events up until 2005, after which the spot was replaced with a Macy’s store.

“It was a Christmas tradition. We have a lot of people come up this year and say ‘I used to sit in that chair.’ or they remember going to Santaland,” McDonley said. “It just makes the photo so magical.”

Milwaukie Santa rounds out the holiday festivities by giving out cookies, candy canes, hot cocoa, and even using an artificial snow machine to float soap bubbles onto the children. His house is also impressively decked out with bright, flashing and colorful Christmas decorations.

The Milwaukie Santa holds the event for two weeks every December up until Christmas Eve. McDonley welcomes any interested families to come visit the jolly man at 8212 SE Clackamas Rd in Milwaukie from 5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. If you can’t make it in person, there’s also a livestream of Milwaukie Santa from his official Facebook page.

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