Stranger burst ino tears spotting Santa dropping to knees before 93-year-old man
Gina Wilbur was in for a special surprise when she entered a mall in Delaware earlier this month.
While doing her Christmas shopping, Wilbur observed Santa Claus on duty in Concord Mall in Wilmington. She shared the experience on Facebook.
She pulled out her phone and, with her kids in mind, got ready to take a picture of Mr. Claus. When she saw where he was headed, things took a different turn.
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Wilbur watched as Santa kneeled down in front of an elderly man. She later spoke to PEOPLE:
“Just as I was ready to take the picture, Santa stopped short to shake the hand of a gentleman, a WWII Veteran, sitting on a wall next to me."
“As Santa reached for his hand, the gentleman began to stand and then Santa knelt down on one knee to show his appreciation.”
Wilbur explained what happened in her Facebook post:
"I hear Santa telling the gentleman, in a soft voice, of others he knew who served. He shakes his hand with genuine gratefulness thanking him for his service and returns to the children. Best moment of my day."
The post received over 13,000 likes and was shared 5,889 times. About 750 comments reflected how widespread the holiday cheer went thanks to this Santa's actions.
Later on, Mr. Claus spoke to Fox 29 about what happened:
“We owe a debt of gratitude to men like this, that have made such a life-changing decision to give up themselves, be willing to lay down their life even, for other people.”
Under the Facebook post, many people shared their own stories of Santas and veterans.
Wilbur described the reactions:
“Others were commenting of heartwarming stories about Santa and how he impacted them; always greeting and respecting veterans, signing to deaf children and holding the sleeping babies."
Wilbur also got a response from the veteran's daughter. She found out that the 93-year-old man was Bob Smiley. He served under General George S. Patton.
Smiley went on to have 10 children and 26 grandchildren. Unfortunately his wife of 66 years Jane Smiley passed away in 2015.
His daughter did an interview with "Good Morning America" saying:
"I thought the photo was beautiful--it just reminded me of my dad. My dad just gives respect to a lot of people and in turn gets that same respect. It has been so nice to see somebody honoring him like Santa had done."
She expressed her appreciation to Santa:
"He is almost a real Santa Claus. He's a very nice man. I was thrilled. I was sitting there and he bent down his knee. His father was in WWII the same as me and also, his father was in the Korean War and has since passed away."
Smiley was humble about the whole thing. He explained that "in [his] generation it was duty. We all went, we all served. Every boy in my high school graduating class all served.”
Another heartwarming story of Santa Claus came out of New Jersey. Kerry Magro is a 30-year-old who has autism. This means he understands when kids with autism come up to him with different behaviors.
This Santa doesn't see you when you're sleeping or know when you're awake. But he knows how to bond with you if you have autism. https://t.co/oY93JFVvM7— WRCB-TV (@WRCB) December 9, 2018
Magro had a bad experience years ago when he went to visit Santa at the mall. Now, he can help autistic kids and their parents have a more welcoming time when they go to visit the big guy.
Even former first lady Michelle Obama gets excited when she meets Santa. Last week, she showed off her dance moves as she appeared onstage at a Children's Hospital.
Obama was promoting her new book "Becoming," which is already the best selling non-fictional book for 2018. A young girl asked her what her favorite dance move is.
Obama wasn't sure, so she imitated the girl who danced to "Fortnite's Orange Justice. The first lady encouraged Santa to show off his moves as well.