LINCOLN COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - A Lincolnton man died over the weekend after being admitted to the hospital with what doctors believe was COVID-19.
Jim Helms, affectionately known as “Santa Jim,” has been dressing up as Santa Claus for years. He brought cheer to the community that families are going to miss this Christmas.
Helms was beloved and the community looked forward to seeing him every year downtown. Lincolnton Mayor Ed Hatley referred to him an “institution for Christmas.”
“It’s not going to be a regular Christmas this year for many reasons," Hatley said, "But one of those reasons is that we’re not going to have Jim to play Santa Claus.”
Back in October, Helms posted on Facebook he was being treated for COVID 19. City leaders confirmed he died over the weekend..
Kids looked forward to visiting him in Downtown Lincolnton.
Trent Mason, a community member says his daughter who grew up visiting Santa Jim.
“Every time we come down, her first thoughts are, 'are we going to get ice cream and where’s Santa Claus?” Mason said. “My daughter is almost three, she’s had two Christmas experiencing it with Santa Claus here, Santa Jim. And was really looking forward to it this year.”
Mayor Hatley says this serves as a reminder that COVID-19 can take anyone away. He’s calling on the community to be extra cautious this holiday season.
“It’s so important to be aware of COVID and what it can do to you," Hatley said. "By wearing a simple face masks, washing your hands. That’s what we need to do.”