Les Heinemann has played Santa Claus at Baybrook Mall in Friendswood for 13 seasons now. Somebody told him that by December 25 of this year he'll have had almost 300,000 children sit on his lap and sort out their Christmas lists.
I first met Heinemann in 2001 when I worked at Baybrook part-time and we'd chat on our lunch breaks. Les discovered that I'm from Kentucky, which usually leads to a conversation about basketball, horses or bourbon. Instead, I discovered that Santa loves bluegrass.
He leads a band called The Florissant Fossils Bluegrass Band back at his home in Colorado. They're on Facebook and have a sweet ReverbNation page with a handful of songs on there. "I'd Like to Trade All My Troubles," "Barefoot Kids From Long Ago" and "Blue Virginia Blue" are about as fluent and well-recorded as anything you'll ever hear.