Each holiday season, Jon Nickerson dons the famous red suit and fluffy white beard and travels all over the place, bringing happiness to countless youngsters who simply can’t wait to tell Santa what they want for Christmas.
This yuletide, Nickerson, a project manager/architectural engineering designer at Alfred State, is making a rather special appearance as Kris Kringle, one that will be seen by millions of people all across the US on Dec. 12 when they tune into ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight” from 8-10 p.m.
Entering its fourth season, “The Great Christmas Light Fight” features families and neighborhoods across America who decorate their homes to the extreme for Christmas in the hopes of winning a $50,000 cash prize and the coveted “Light Fight” trophy. The show is co-hosted by Taniya Nayak, one of America’s premier designers who is known for designing many of New England’s hottest restaurants and lounges, and Carter Oosterhouse, an expert in green-building solutions and eco-friendly designs and the host of several popular shows, including HGTV’s “Million Dollar Rooms.”
Though Nickerson, a Scio native and Alfred State alum, won’t be competing on the show, his appearance was made possible by a couple of his friends who are. Twins Larry and Dennis Field, who also hail from Scio, have competed against each other for years for the area’s most spectacular Christmas lights display.
This year, however, the brothers have pooled their resources and creativity together to decorate a house owned by Larry in Lake View. Known as the “Lake View Singing Twinsmas House,” the building features a lights show and a Disney theme this year. For more info on the house, visit https://www.facebook.com/LakeViewChristmasHouse/.
Nickerson and his wife, Melissa, who had dressed up as Mrs. Claus, took part in about 30 minutes’ worth of filming for the show. Though he is unsure which portions will actually air Dec. 12 and whether they will appear during the 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. time slot, Nickerson said, “It’s neat to be appearing on TV. If I get five seconds of air time, that’s cool, but the bigger part for me is being with the kids and seeing them. That’s what being Santa is all about.”
Being Santa Claus is nothing new to Nickerson. He first portrayed Father Christmas as a fourth-grader in a school play, and has done so many times since.
“I’ve always been a fairly good-sized guy,” he said with a laugh.
As Santa, Nickerson has traveled to numerous venues in western New York, and even Pennsylvania, taking pictures and listening to the many present requests from children, all of whom, of course, have been good all year. He has countless stories to tell, some that are joyful, others that will tug at even the iciest of heartstrings.
But wherever he goes and whomever he meets when he puts on that red suit and white beard each Christmas season, Nickerson continues to make spirits as bright as an over-the-top holiday display.
“The kids are the best part about being Santa,” he said. “It’s all about the smiles on those kids’ faces, it’s the pictures I see people sharing on Facebook who don’t even know I was the Santa Claus, and it’s about those who don’t have a great outlook on life who maybe got an extra smile.”
Those interested in booking Nickerson as Santa for an event may reach him on the “Santa Hotline” at 585-610-8700.