BY GABRIELE HOLTERMANN
Santa Claus is in a bind this year. During a holiday season marked by COVID-19, he has to come up with creative ways to spread holiday joy to children and adults alike and find out who is naughty or nice while keeping a social distance.
A trial lawyer by trade, Dana B. Friedman, became “New York Santa” after 9/11 when he was brainstorming with his assistant about ways to give back to the first responders. His assistant told him that his was physique was jolly enough to be Santa, and after scoring a Santa suit at Rubie’s Costume Company at a discount, “New York Santa” was born.
The first year, he spread joy to the families of first responders and the victims of the World Trade Center attacks. When hospitals like Jamaica Hospital, St. Mary’s Hospital for Children, and Blythedale Children’s Hospital learned about his charitable work, he began spreading his holiday cheer to children at hospitals and orphanages.
But this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he had to become a socially distant Santa.
With the help of Cord Meyer Development Company, owner of The Bay Terrace Shopping Center in Bayside, Friedman opened up a “workshop” in a vacant store where people can drop off toys or a monetary donation.
What is most important to Friedman is that the kids can see him through the large window front while he is inside working.
“Just as important, if not even more important, is that the kids can see Santa is there for them and they can get their picture with Santa,” Friedman said. “The kids have hope. They know that there is a sense of continuity that all good things will prevail in time. As long as I can get that across, I’ve done my job.”
If you wish to donate unwrapped toys or monetary donations for the children at St. Mary’s Hospital for Children and Blythedale Children’s Hospital, you can do so at Santa’s workshop, located at 212-09 26th Ave. at The Bay Terrace Shopping Center. The shop will be open on Dec. 12 and 13, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.