Secret Santa reveals his identity
Date: Tuesday, November 21 2006
"it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! "
Monday, November 20, 2006
Larry Stewart speaks with a reporter during in interview in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, Nov. 17, 2006.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For 26 years, a man known only as Secret Santa has roamed the streets every December quietly giving people money. He started with $5 and $10 bills. As his fortune grew, so did the gifts. In recent years, Secret Santa has been handing out $100 bills, sometimes two or three at a time, to people in thrift stores, diners and parking lots. So far, he's anonymously given out about $1.3 million. It's been a long-held holiday mystery: Who is Secret Santa?
But now, weak from chemotherapy and armed with a desire to pass on his belief in random kindness, Secret Santa has decided it's time to reveal his identity.
He is Larry Stewart, a 58-year-old businessman from the Kansas City suburb of Lee's Summit, Mo., who made his millions in cable television and long-distance telephone service.
His holiday giving started in December 1979 when he was nursing his wounds at a drive-in restaurant after getting fired. It was the second year in a row he had been fired the week before Christmas.
"It was cold and this car hop didn't have on a very big jacket, and I thought to myself, `I think I got it bad. She's out there in this cold making nickels and dimes,'" he said.
He gave her $20 and told her to keep the change.
"And suddenly I saw her lips begin to tremble and tears begin to flow down her cheeks. She said, `Sir, you have no idea what this means to me.'"
[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on November 22, 2006]