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Carlo Klemm

Dying Santa Claus gets his wish

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Carlo Klemm

Dying Santa Claus gets his wish

The (Easton) Express-Times

July, 22, 2015

 

 

Excerpt:

 

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — The Christmas City will soon be losing a holiday legend.

Christkindlmarkt’s long-running St. Nicholas — whose real name is Charles “Bud” Berge — is in hospice care, his family said Tuesday.

Berge, 80, of Bethlehem, has been Christkindlmarkt’s lone St. Nicholas since the festival debuted in 1993.

His dying wish has been to hear from the thousands of area residents who have gotten their picture with him as St. Nicholas over the last 22 years. The public outpouring has been overwhelming, daughter Pamela Gray said.

“It’s been incredible that he’s had so many people stop by, call him, send him photos all because of their connection to St. Nicholas,” she said. “It’s been nonstop support.”

Berge was diagnosed with cancer three years ago and has been in hospice care for the past three weeks at Moravian Village, Gray said. While he hasn’t felt like eating or drinking in recent days, the many visits from fans and friends have buoyed his spirit, Gray said.

“He keeps saying he’s at peace and he’s ready, but apparently his body is as strong as his soul, and he almost gets these bursts of energy when someone calls or comes in,” she said.

One of those calls came from Jill Seyfried Frack. Frack, 32, volunteered for 10 years as a Christkindlmarkt elf and considers Berge a dear friend.

“He’s been sick on and off, and people didn’t realize that,” she said of Christkindlmarkt visitors in recent years. “Every year he swore, ‘I’m going to get better just to do that.’ He lived to do that.”

Berge, a former town crier and head of the Citizens Christmas City Committee, came highly recommended when ArtsQuest was looking for a St. Nicholas for its German Christmas village, ArtsQuest Senior Vice President of Programming Patrick Brogan said. He more than lived up to his endorsement, he said.

 

*****

 

Berge, in a 2010 interview with lehighvalleylive.com, said he loved dressing up as St. Nicholas and even didn’t mind making children cry on occasion.

“I have to be able to take rejection, but I don’t take it as rejection, I just love all the kids,” he said. “I blow them a kiss and tell them I love them when they leave.”

Berge even once helped in a proposal. The man had preplanned it, giving Berge a ring to hold before he and his girlfriend went up for a photo.

“I asked him what he would like and he said, ‘If Kelly would be mine for years to come,’ and I said, ‘Maybe I can help you,’ and I had a ring,” Berge said. “You should have heard the screams.”

Lehigh Valley With Love blogger George Wacker wrote a story about Berge’s dying wish to hear from local residents. He received dozens of photographs of people with Berge, which Dan’s Camera City turned into a photo book for free. Wacker plans to give Berge the book Wednesday.

“He’s so charming — you find a lot of pictures in there of kids whispering to him,” Wacker said. “It would be a shame to have all these photos go to waste if he can’t see them.”

 

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Carlo Klemm

What a great man! I had tears in my eyes as I was reading and deciding what to place here. I hope you read all of his story and if someone is close by, maybe get in touch with him and show him the support of the Santa community. 

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Santa Lou

Carlo,

 

I am deeply touched by the outpouring of love for this man. Truly he was and is,the "Spirit of Christmas!" in the hearts of so many.

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Bestemor Claus

what a great St Nicholas. What a blessing he has been. God bless him.

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SCSanta

Thanks for sharing this story. God Bless Santa 'Bud'

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Elf Without Jingles

There's one word that comes to mind after reading this story. HERO.

Sometimes, a Santa comes along who really exemplifies what the Eight Principles of the Santa Claus Oath really mean. Trust me, Charles "Bud" Berge is one such person. It'll be hard to find someone worthy enough to follow in his footsteps; if that happens, I hope that person will be just as wise, just as noble, just as kind.

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Santa Marty

An impressive Santa.

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Bill Bryant

God Bless you Bud !

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Santa Warren

Yes bless you Bud, story put a tear in my eyes

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Santa Castor

May he go in peace, and leave sweet memories to console the ones that will ache at his passing.

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Carlo Klemm

This brother in red has taken his last sleigh ride. 

Please see this story and update in Santas Last Sleigh Ride

Bethlehem's longtime St. Nick dies

 

 

No need to comment further on this page.

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Santa Mike 19536

God Bless You Santa Bud!

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Santa Bruce Geron

Beautiful

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