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“I wish we had more Santas in the world” 

Long-time Santa Continous to Thrive During Hawaiian Holiday

Pitched and published for Honolulu Civil Beat and Boyd's Station.


Driving into Aloha Stadium’s Show Aloha Land, this year’s drive-through Christmas light show, the infamous Santa Claus sits at the entrance with his radio playing Christmas songs people look forward to all year.  As people drive by, he waves and welcomes them with a jolly “Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas! Always listen to mommy and daddy, kids.” That is Don Gonzales, and he has dressed up as Santa Claus for the past five years. 

Gonzales has worked in multiple professions during his 56 years of living in Hawaii. When he is not dressed up as Santa, he is a foster caregiver, a drummer at several local churches and a fumigator. However, during the holiday season, he has taken on the red and white outfit entertaining people around the island.  

Words and Photograph by Shafkat Anowar

Five years ago, Don Gonzales found his calling as Santa Claus when his long white beard caught the eye of a photo studio owner at an Oahu mall.

“She looked at me and said, ‘Is that real?’, and I looked at her and said ‘Of course it’s real,’” he said. 



He got the gig playing Santa at the mall’s rotunda for three years and then branched out to other venues, including last year’s Winter Wonderland at the Hawaii Convention Center.