Hillsborough County

Hillsborough judge volunteers as Santa to brighten holidays for kids

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) -- Hillsborough County Judge Nick Nazaretian can often times been seen at the courthouse in downtown Tampa. However, around the holidays, he has a special job helping out Old Saint Nick.

For the last 20 years, Nazaretian has been one of Santa's helpers dressing up in a big, red suit, complete with the iconic white beard. He volunteers his time to smiles on the faces of hundreds of kids around Tampa Bay.

One of the events where he volunteers is put on by Tampa City Councilman Luis Viera. It is for children who have autism.

"Before I was a judge, I was a prosecutor and I used to call myself Santa Laws," he says jokingly.

On a serious note, he says this is one of the most special ways for him to celebrate the Christmas season.

"A lot of these kids can't go to the mall and participate and tell Santa what they want because of the autism," says Nazaretian.

Heather Bauduin takes her child to the event each year. She says it's a much better option for her child rather than going to the mall.

"The moment they walk in there are too many sights and sounds and things that are overwhelming for them," she says.

Here the lights are dimmed and it is a much more quiet environment, and the children love it!

"It is a special part of Christmas for me. Like I said, without having children this is my Christmas morning," says Nazaretian.

He also volunteers as Santa at other places around the area.

  • Saturday, Dec. 9th from 8 - 11:30 am will be a pancake breakfast with Santa,  This event is sponsored by Colonel DJ Reyes.  It will be held at the South Fellowship Ballast Point Church located at 5101 Bayshore Blvd.
  • Saturday, Dec. 16th from 8 am - noon at the Sheriff's Citrus Park office.

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