Blue Santa Rides Again

The Houston Police Department spreads holiday cheer to disadvantaged children through its "Blue Santa" program. The department's holiday charity raises money to buy bicycles for the kids.

Kids of all ages waited patiently with their parents in a Kashmere Gardens neighborhood in northeast Houston for a visit from Blue Santa. Houston Police Officer Horace Mann was dressed in a blue Santa’s suit and riding on horseback. His “helpers” — also police officers — followed in a truck carrying dozens of bicycles and other presents.

One-by-one, names of the kids were called to claim their gifts.


“Enjoy your bikes ladies, enjoy your bikes. Don’t forget to put those helmets on.”

After the children posed for a picture, Blue Santa had time for a quick chat.

“This is actually my first year of playing Santa. This is actually the first day I’ve ever put a Santa Claus outfit on.”

PH: “You look like a natural.”

Mann: “Well, that’s a good thing. That’s an excellent thing, excellent thing.”

PH: “How man kids are the benefit here?”

Mann:  “Probably gonna be thousands. Its thousands of children. A lot of the officers in the police department donate money out of their paychecks on a monthly basis, on a monthly basis, and it meets great needs like this. Doing the work of the police department, and sharing events like this with a lot of children.”

The Blue Santa program began in 1984 when a police officer arrested a man for shoplifting. The officers found that the man was stealing children’s clothing, so his kids would have a Christmas. His heartfelt story resulted in other officers donating enough money to buy toys for a dozen children. Mann says nothing beats watching the smiles on the kid’s faces.

“It’s a blessing and it’s a joy, it’s just a great opportunity to give back to the community, and I love children, and it’s just a great opportunity. These are memories for a lifetime. You can’t trade ’em.”

Over 1,500 officers donate each year to the Blue Santa program.