Marion’s top interrogator recently was grilled by questions.
Police Chief Tyler Mermis addressed doubts about the existence of Santa Claus while he performed a reading of “The Night Before Christmas,” Thursday at Marion Elementary School library.
Accompanied by assistant chief Clinton Jeffrey, wearing an elf hat with elf ears to go with his normal police uniform, Mermis arrived clad in a traditional red suit and hat, favoring his own well-kept whiskers to jolly old St. Nick’s busy beard because he wanted students to know he was not the real Santa Claus.
Mermis’s reading was going along nicely until a student from Ginger Becker’s first grade class made a shocking statement.
“Some people don’t believe in Santa Claus,” the student said.
Children squirmed and some snickered as murmurs of filled the quaint corner of the library.
Jeffrey folded his arms and straightened up in his seat as Mermis replied to the student with his own questions.
“What?” he said. “That’s crazy. How do we get our presents then?”
Another student piped up, “Our parents bring them.”
Mermis shifted in his seat and replied, “Yep, parents give presents, but Santa does, too.”
A third student said, “My neighbor said he doesn’t believe in Santa Claus. He says Santa’s not real.”
Mermis laid the book down, which happened to be open to a page with Santa’s portrait on it.
“You know, if you pay attention on Christmas you can see him go through Marion County at night,” Mermis said. “I remember when I was a little kid. We went outside and saw Rudolph’s red nose glowing way up in the sky, and we could hear the jingle bells.”
The children seemed to accept Mermis’s anecdote as questions turned to how Santa gained access to houses that did not have chimneys.
“Santa’s got magical powers,” Mermis said. “He just snaps his fingers.”
A student added, “Yeah, he can go through walls.”
School librarian Lori Kirkpatrick said the question of Santa’s existence happens regularly.
“Not every class questions it but it happens about once a year,” Kirkpatrick said. “Most people handle it like Tyler. They say, ‘What? That’s crazy. You don’t believe in Santa Claus?’”