GASTONIA, NC (WBTV) - Mr. and Mrs. Claus are at the Gastonia Dillard's year after year, Gastonia residents say, but this year there is only a Mr. Claus.
"People would stand in line for hours to have their child get a picture and a chance to sit on his lap and tell them their Christmas wishes," one resident said.
Despite recently losing Mrs. Claus, residents say, Santa still showed up to greet the line of children. Resident Valerie Looper posted a video on Facebook of Santa singing. "He said he wanted to be with the kids and not home alone. Bless his heart. He sang for us and spoke some beautiful words of Mrs. Clause. Praying for him during such a difficult time," Looper said.
Several community members wrote in to say they were heartbroken by the news.
"He [Santa] said, 'When a child tells you they love you they really mean it. This world would be a better place if it was filled with children.' He then began to sing Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer and there wasn't a dry eye in the waiting area when he was done," Looper said.
Looper's 7-year-old son has been visiting Santa every year since he was born.
"Afterwards, he [Looper's son] made his way to his chair and I was able to witness the true healing of a broken heart when each child would climb up into his lap and whisper what they wanted on Christmas morning," Looper said. "He spent a little extra time with each child on Thursday and through the pain you could see a glimmer of happiness."