Did you know 'Santa' lives in Milford?

With the holidays now upon us, Milford has a special treat: Rick George, a former animal control officer and longtime community activist, can deliver Santa.

George may not be the real Santa Claus, but he says he’s a “hand-picked designee.” Santa does, after all, get busy during the winter months. Not only does George look like Santa, he’s got a self-built Santa’s workshop that makes his appearances even more special.

George has been helping Santa out for years. He started 28 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 last year 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 will go to the non-profit group that requests the appearance.

George did most of the work himself, though he has a friend who helped with welding. 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.

The workshop was finished at the end of 2015, and this year George was busy building an addition.

“Hope to have Rudolph hanging out of the front and a nose piece that makes it look like a train,” George said.

“I enjoy keeping the magic of Christmas alive,” George added. “And I enjoy keeping Christ in Christmas. I like kids and I think it’s important that adults don’t talk down to them but communicate on their level.”

And if the look and the workshop don’t convince you that Santa, or rather one of his key helpers, lives in Milford, just take a look at George’s business card. It reads, “Richard ‘Rick’ George, ‘Santa Rick’ North Pole.”

For more information go to everythingsanta.org