For decades, the Chestertown Rotary Club has brightened the holidays for children in northern Warren County by hosting a visit in Chestertown by Santa Claus. Year after year the famed holiday figure has arrived bearing gifts, good cheer and behavior advice.
By next year, however, children who have gazed into Santa’s face and shared their Christmas wishes may notice some subtle changes in his appearance, because Jerry Meader, the man behind the familiar face for more than 15 years, has announced his retirement.
This year’s visit, held Dec. 7, hosted 200 children, a number of whom would have otherwise had a bleak holiday without the visit which includes Rotary’s traditional generous gift presentations. The event also annually features live holiday music, refreshments, and horse-drawn wagon rides. This year, the Friends of the Chester Library gave out books to the children attending.
It was in the mid-1990’s that Jerry Meader agreed to serve as Santa and he started his lengthy tenure portraying the generous, insightful character. In recent years, Elna Meader has joined her husband, as Mrs. Claus, in greeting the children.
Chestertown publicist Shep Peck said that the members of his organization deeply appreciated Jerry and Elna Meader for their many years of service to the children of northern Warren County.
“They will be a tough act to follow,” he said.
Efforts to reach the Meaders were unsuccessful this week — and Peck said he wasn’t surprised that Santa was preoccupied, considering the demands on his during the holiday season.