Milford Santa to receive DAR award

Rick George will receive the National Daughters of the American Revolution Community Service Award next month for his work as Santa Claus for non-profit organizations throughout the Milford area.

The award will be presented Thursday, May 11, at 7 p.m. at the Freelove Baldwin Stow DAR Chapter House at 55 Prospect St. in Milford.

The Community Service Award was established by the National Daughters of the American Revolution in 1993 as a way for local chapters to honor worthy residents for voluntary achievements in cultural, humanitarian, patriotic, historical and citizenship endeavors, or in environmental conservation.

George has been filling in for Santa for a number of years in Milford, and took the holiday portrayals to a new level in 2015 when hebuilt a mobile Santa’s workshop.

George, a former animal control officer in Milford, started wearing the Santa suit almost 30 years ago when he worked at the Milford Animal Shelter and he and another former animal control officer, Pat Liptak, decided to host a pet photos with Santa event to raise funds for various shelter needs. George wore the suit.

Since then, George has put on his Santa suit at a number of events and fund-raisers, from Toys for Tots to tree lightings to school functions.

Retired somewhat, though he does work at a Milford elementary school as a front entrance greeter, George was thinking about building a tiny house, which is all the craze in downsized, simple living, when he switched gears and decided to build Santa’s workshop.

With a past that includes raising funds for groups like the United Way, George knew that nonprofit groups these days are ever in need of new ways to raise funds. With his mobile workshop, he can drive up to an event, open his doors and offer Santa and his workshop for fund-raising photos.

He calls it a mobile photo studio, and proceeds go to the non-profit group that requests the appearance.

The workshop — 24 feet by eight feet wide — sits on top of an 18-foot car trailer. There is a pull-out section for even more photo opportunities.

The outside of the workshop is red with green trim, and there is a computerized light and sound system, powered by a generator in the back. The inside features oak flooring and pine walls, and an old-fashioned chair and tools that would naturally be in Santa’s workshop.

“I enjoy keeping the magic of Christmas alive,” George said after he finished building the workshop.

The DAR meeting and award ceremony is open to the public and anyone wishing to speak about George may call 203-877-1851 to be added to the program. There is parking behind the building. Refreshments will be served after the program.