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Local judge helps Santa spread Christmas cheer

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – 2020 has been the Grinch who’s stolen a lot of joy from kids this year. They’ve missed being with friends, been through isolation lockdown and perhaps even seen their parents struggling to make ends meet, but one of Santa’s very best helpers is determined to make sure the Grinch doesn’t rob our children of Christmas magic.

When Christmas comes to town, Hillsborough County Judge Nick Nazaretian’s courtroom looks more like the North Pole. That’s because the judge has been one of Santa’s most enthusiastic helpers for thirty years! In fact, you may confuse his suit, with the real thing.

“This virus has taken so much from everyone. I don’t want it to take this from the kids,” Nazaretian said about Christmas and the holiday season.

So, Santa Claus himself rallied the troops, calling on his best helpers, like the judge, to make sure kids in Tampa Bay have a reason to celebrate the season.

“To bring back some normalcy,” Nazaretian said.

Through the years, Judge Nazaretian has listened to Tampa Bay children whisper their Christmas wish-list. He’s watched some of them grow up, he’s been humbled by many encounters with parents.

“I started crying when she told me this story,” he remembers. “It was the first time she’d seen her son smile all year because of everything going on in his life, so that was a pretty cool story.”

While Santa and his helpers are constant, COVID-19 changes everything. But, Santa can adjust.

“The Santa masks are on their way,” he says.

He’s also making sure everyone is safe this year during visits.

If you find yourself asking, “Where are you Christmas?” this year, Judge Nazaretian wants you to know, it’s still here. Just look for his curly white beard and jingle bell boots.

“I want them to enjoy Christmas time, enjoy Santa coming.”

It’s almost as if the judge was put on this earth for this role. He’s a Christmas baby, born on Dec. 21. That’s why his parents also named him Nicholas.

There is no organization he will turn down, so if you need a little Christmas magic in your life, reach out to the Hillsborough County courthouse.

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