Soul Santa Visits Tallahassee

Dec 19, 2017

Tallahassee has many Yuletide traditions. One of them is the yearly arrival of "Soul Santa" in the town's African-American neighborhoods. Jolly Old St. Nick attracted a full house of kids and parents to the Southside's Smith Williams Service Center on Saturday, Dec. 16. 

The Smith-Williams Service Center was full of kids and parents awaiting an audience with Soul Santa.
Credit Tom Flanigan

One of Santa's busiest elves was the Center's Chelbert Stallings. He was grilling up a mess of hot dogs.

"Four-hundred and eighty," he said with obvious pride, expertly flipping the franks for even cooking. "Six boxes of 80 to a box and I'm doing a good deed for the kids!"

One of the event's founders, Stephen Beasley, was there, too.

"We started out with 12 kids over in Frenchtown with Dr. Stevins and Dr. Williams on Georgia Street," he remembered fondly. "In fact the real founder was Charley Dobbin. He owned the Super-X Food Store."

This weekend, between the LaVern and Smith Williams Centers, Beasley estimated the Soul Santa turnout to well over 1,000.