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Mourning Santa Larry, who always knew what children wanted

"He would actually study the Christmas wish books so he would know what was really popular"
Santa Larry Tamkin
A toy drive is once again being held in memory of Larry Tamkin, known to many as Santa Larry, who passed away in March 2018. Along with wife Susan (aka Mrs. Claus), he brought joy and happiness to children during the holiday season as Santa.

A New Westminster man’s legacy will live on in the memories of thousands of folks whose lives he’s touched through the years.

Larry Tamkin, who was known as Santa Larry to many families, passed away suddenly on March 4.

“He was a bighearted guy. He did everything for the kids,” said stepson James McBurnie. “He brought joy to a lot of people.”

For 45 years, Tamkin relished his role as the much-loved Santa Claus at Royal City Centre and Woodward’s.

“He loved it,” McBurnie said. “He took it really seriously. He would actually study the Christmas wish books or whatever when they came out so he would know what was really popular. My brother has a couple of kids. He would talk to them and get ideas from them. He was relevant and with the times with the toys. He was such a good guy.”

Tamkin explained the finer points of being Santa to a Record reporter in 2004.

“The most important thing is you want to be jolly. Don’t overdo it. Just laugh a lot,” he said. “You don’t have to say, ‘ho, ho, ho’ all the time. Sit the children evenly on your lap. Ask basic questions. Just let it flow.”

Rozmin Watson of Hire a Santa said Tamkin was a wonderful, genuine and very humble Santa, who was dedicated to his love of Christmas and the kids. Along with Mrs. Claus, wife Susan, she said the couple brought lots of joy and happiness to children during the holiday season.

"What made him very special was his understanding of people’s needs whether they were 2 years old or 40 years of age. All the folks from the food court would enjoy their coffee and watched him interact with people of all ages,” she said. “Santa Larry was a wonderful, calm Santa who understood the meaning of all walks of life. He made many great contributions to the Christmas season and helped it move forward in numerous ways by his kindness and generosity. We were honoured by his kindness and compassion to everyone around him.”

Rev. Laura Nelson at Olivet Baptist Church said Tamkin was involved with the church for many years.

“He did a lot of music here. He worked with the kids. We have a program for moms. He would come and play music with the kids,” she said. “He was so well-loved.”

When the church launched a second service, Tamkin was instrumental in providing music and was part of a band that performed at the church. The band will providing music – and performing a song written and composed by Tamkin – at this weekend’s celebration of life.

“Very musical, very gifted in theatre,” Nelson said of Tamkin. “A multi-talented gentleman.”

A celebration of Tamkin’s life is taking place on Saturday, March 10 at 2 p.m. at Olivet Baptist Church, 613 Queens Ave. In lieu of flowers, Tamkin’s family suggests people buy a Christmas gift for a child in need next Christmas or make a donation to a children’s charity of their choice.