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Morning Look: Santa Comes to Raljon

The holiday spirit was alive and well in section 105 last night, where Buddy Whetzel, in full Santa Claus garb--including sleigh bell--gradually worked his way down to the fourth or fifth row as the game's dramatic end unfolded.

"Seat's taken, Santa," said an Eagles fan, standing alone in front of four empty seats.

"Don't break my arm, dude," Santa said.

Whetzel posed for photos with little girls. He explained how he spent 20 years in the Navy, and had actually taken this particular Santa suit to the North Pole, where he christened it with genuine North Pole water.

"Hey Santa, you're blocking my view!" another Eagles fan shouted.

(By Kevin C. Cox - Getty)

Well, it was close to the holiday spirit, anyhow. Like, even out in the post-game concourse, when the Redskins had won. "EAGLES SUCK," everyone chanted, in tune to the marching band's beat, which is kind of the NFL's version of caroling. "[Bleep] all you guys!" someone shouted at some Eagles fans. "[Bleep] the Eagles," someone else yelled. "We want Dallas," some guys tried chanting.

"It IS un-Santa-like," judged David Geaney of Clarksville, another of the dozens of full-costumed Santas roaming FedEx Field on the last game before Christmas. "Because some of the Eagles were good boys."

"You DO exist," shouted delirious Redskins fans as they passed Geaney.

Much like a defensive coordinator game-planning for Brian Westbrook, it seemed you couldn't turn a corner without seeing that dang fat guy. There were two beard-less Santas at the end zone bar behind Section 133, downing American lagers and puffing on cigarettes. There was J.R. Catterton-as-Santa, sprinting for the exits with about three minutes left in an attempt to beat traffic. There was Mike Hicks of Oxon Hill, whose long white beard and jolly old belly were both the genuine article.

"It brings joy to people," explained Hicks, who left his full costume at home but still gave a creditable showing.

Several Santas reported that their costumes provided not just joy but considerable warmth; "I'm roasting in here," Geaney said. Many of the Santas opined that the best gift for Redskins fans would be a burgundy-and-gold win, but they were obviously wrong. The best gift would have been a Redskins win combined with a Falcons loss, to keep those playoff dreams alive for one more week, dancing in the heads of little boys and little girls. Santa needs to spend more time looking at the standings.

"What we gave the Redskins fans today was to keep the Eagles out of the playoffs," explained the Hogette Santa, Big Mac, who mixed his flowing red-and-white robe and white beard with a pig snout.

Whetzel, a season-ticket holder who has worn his costume to the last home game before Christmas for years, carried his own wish: another year for Coach Jim Zorn. "All Santa wants is a Hip Hip Hooray 2009 season," read his sign.

Meantime, the Official Santa and Mrs. Claus sat with the Redskins Marching Band. That would be Charlie and Patty Brown of Fairfax City, who have worked the last home game before Christmas for 30 and 25 years, respectively. The Official Santa was still talking hopefully of the playoffs into the fourth quarter, and he, too, was subject to dozens of photo requests and warm wishes.

"I believed until I was 14," shouted up Melissa Simpson as she walked by.

"Don't stop believing!" Official Santa shouted back.

"When I found out, I was crushed," Simpson told me back out in the concourse, still reveling in the experience. "And when I see someone like him, it makes me want to cry."

Cry in a good way, she meant. "You need a beer?" she asked me. That's the spirit.

By Dan Steinberg  |  December 22, 2008; 10:18 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Look , Redskins  
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Next: Philly Tastes Agony


Yeah, cause there's no swearing and un-Santa like activity in Philadelphia...

Posted by: Kev29 | December 22, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Do Philly fans now boo Santa just out of tradition?

Posted by: wp11234 | December 22, 2008 5:57 PM | Report abuse

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