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Soul Santa Visits Tallahassee

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Tom Flanigan
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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. 

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.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

Find complete bio, contact info, and more stories. here.