Santa is a working man.
Dana Friedman, a silver-haired 61-year-old New York City-based trial attorney, converted a kids clothing store (which had shuttered as a result of the pandemic) into his workshop, where he’s making toys for tots and delivering them in his 1968 “bikini blue” Oldsmobile Cutlass convertible.
“Usually we’ll go to hospitals and facilities where kids can get the opportunity to see Santa, but instead [because of COVID-19] we had to figure out a way to bring Santa to the kids,” Friedman told Fox News on Tuesday.
‘Tis truly the season for the father from Bayside, Queens, who has been transforming into St. Nick every year since shortly after 9/11, when his firm, Kleinberg & Friedman, a block away from his office, started donating to those in need during the holidays.
But in the age of social distancing, Friedman had to pull off a Christmas miracle. With a little help from some elves – his 19-year-old son, Sean, and his paralegal – he transformed children’s clothing store Justice, located in the Bay Terrace shopping center in Queens, into a hub for donated gifts and wooden toys he makes from “stuff” he finds at craft shop Michael’s.
“We asked Cord Meyer Developments, the owner of the local shopping center, ‘May we take one of the empty stores and convert it into Santa’s workshop?’” Friedman says.
They were nice about it, letting Friedman use the space for free. He now calls his workshop “the Miracle on 26th Avenue,” and he’s busy spreading some holiday cheer to the community.
“We took the S and the C from the Justice sign and painted it in glitter, and now its ‘SC’ for Santa Claus. We decorated the shop, I brought all of my art supplies from home,” he says.
And while the age-old tradition of sitting on Santa’s lap won’t fly during COVID times, Friedman is masking up this year, posing from behind the glass window of his makeshift “toy shop” from a social distance. His biggest Claus inspiration? Kurt Russell in the 2018 holiday movie “The Christmas Chronicles.”
“He’s a real working guy, just with toys and different business suits — that was the character I created and much to my surprise, that was sort of Kurt Russell’s,” Friedman said.
“I’ll talk to the kids through the window, or with a mask outside, and keep them socially distanced. Most of the pictures ‘with Santa’ are inside the window,” Friedman said.
So far, Friedman says he’s received hundreds of toy donations, which he’ll distribute to St. Mary’s Hospital for Children in Queens and Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Westchester.
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