TYSONS CORNER, Va. - Santa Claus is making a list and checking it twice as he begins to set up shop at malls and shopping centers throughout the D.C. region as we countdown to Christmas.
That includes the Santa Claus at Tysons Corner Center, who has been there for three decades. Many throughout the area have sat on Mike Graham's lap and are now having their children take their turn visiting him.
“I’ve become part of their family because I’m sitting in a prominent place in their house. It’s usually the refrigerator,” Graham said. “I get the enjoyment from it because I see the smiles on their face. I see that one person can make a difference in multiple people’s lives with just simple gestures.”
The line to greet Graham, a 61-year-old grandfather of six and carpenter from Tennessee, can stretch deep into the mall with wait times lasting up to nearly four hours. And Graham said the lines are not always just for the children.
“People are living vicariously through their children and remembering times of old where it’s not pressured by situations of the world. It’s just that one-on-one time. It’s incredible,” Graham explained.
And if you've ever seen or met him, you'd probably travel great distances to renew the experience also. Graham said he has families visiting every year from as far as California, Oregon and Michigan.
From his contagious smile to his signature white beard, the always jolly Santa Claus gives back to the local community as he visits as he and his wife, Mrs. Claus, make sure to visit the hospital every Christmas Day to see sick children and brighten their days.
If visiting Graham has become a tradition in your holiday experience, share your photos with FOX 5 by using #fox5santa.
In the video player above, watch FOX 5’s Bob Barnard exclusive interview with Santa Claus.