Just when I thought I have seen every holiday, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas, Yule, Eid al Fitr, Solstice story out there, comes this one from the South Pole. You know, from the other side of the frozen tracks?
That’s right, kids. According to most families in high society, here is another reason to lock up doors and bar your windows during the holidays … meet Pancho Claus. Oh no, he’s very real. And you will so dig him!
And you thought I was kidding.
Pancho Claus, as the cool kids in the barrio call him, is a Tex-Mex Santa born from the Chicano civil rights movement. Although based primarily in Texas (S/O to my Lone Star hermanos), there have been Pancho Claus sightings in California and Arizona because what else would ultra-conservatives like to read about this time of the year than Christmas and border patrol?
According to the story:
He usually has black hair and a black beard, sometimes just a mustache. Like Santa, he wears a hat — though often it’s a sombrero. He dons a serape or a poncho and, in one case, a red and black zoot suit. And he makes his grand entrance on lowriders or Harleys or led by a pack of burros instead of eight reindeer.
The festive and ethnically correct guy above was seen in front of the historic Guadalupe Church in San Antonio (S/O to Nick de la Torre for the picture because legalese and such). From the Texas border to the tip of the Panhandle, Pancho Claus gives gifts for low-income and at-risk children primarily in Hispanic neighborhoods.
Pancho Claus was created largely because of a lack of hope in those impoverished settings. All kids deserve to have hope. All holidays deserve to make them smile. All children deserve to exercise their vivid imaginations, but that is difficult to do when you are surrounded by what ghastly things some of those precious little ones have to see through their windows. And so, Pancho Claus was born.
“We have kids that we ask, ‘Did Santa Claus come to see you?’ and they say, ‘No he didn’t. But Pancho Claus did,’” says Robert Narvaiz, vice commander for Lubbock’s American GI Forum and coordinator of that city’s Pancho project.
And some guys get inventive with the look, feel and even ride of Pancho Claus. Check out this guy who has a bright red low rider.
Viva la Raza! Holmes here even has his own Twitter account! This is Richard Reyes, who fronts a swing band, drives the aforementioned sweet ride and, those cool cats behind him? That’s his entourage of “elves.”
His Pancho, designed to appeal to at-risk kids, grew out of his Chicano version of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas, which he wrote and turned into a play in 1981: “When what to my wondering eye should appear, but eight lowrider cars all jacked down in the rear!”
Whatever works for whomever needs it. Christmas: Truly the most wonderful time of the year. Orale!