Volunteer brings Christmas spirit to local school children, seniors

Lloyd Beaman as Santa Claus

Playing Santa Claus is, of course, seasonal work. But during that season, you could certainly say that Lloyd Beaman is doing it full time, and has been since 2014.

In fact, the retired Beaumont native and Beaumont High School grad has been playing Santa Claus at special events since the ’70s.

A volunteer and a fill-in when another local Santa can’t make it, Beaman schedules most of his events at nursing homes, schools and parties through social media. 

Beaman said he started being Santa more seriously a couple years ago since families were approaching him at restaurants and grocery stores.

“I grew a beard, and all of a sudden the kids recognized me,” he said. “Many times, when I go out to eat, someone will come up and say, ‘Will you come talk to our child?’ and I’ll be in regular clothing. Of course, I go over and I play the part.

“It’s something I love to do.”

“I go around to the stores, unsolicited, visit with the children in the stores and help the parents trying to check out,” Beaman said. “It gives the kids somebody to talk to, plus it gives the parents an opportunity to hear what the kids want.”

At schools, he reads stories to children and takes pictures with them. Pine Forest Elementary School in Vidor scheduled Beaman and Vanessa Stanley as Mrs. Claus on Dec. 1 for a photo shoot with the students.

Stanley is a Buna resident and has played Mrs. Claus as a volunteer every year since 2007 in Buna’s children’s Christmas parade, in honor of her son who passed away. She helps the fire station give away bicycles and fruit baskets to children.

“Santa comes in on a fire engine [and we] take pictures with the kids,” Stanley said. “I have two elves and they actually come from the schools. They call them the Buna Sweethearts.”

This was her first time working with Beaman, but she said she has partnered with three Santas in Buna during the annual parade.

Stanley and Beaman both enjoyed being with the Pine Forest Elementary children.

“One of the kids had a Santa hat on, and he actually had his snacks hidden in his Santa hat,” Stanley said.

“I like reading the kids when they come up, trying to figure out their personalities,” Beaman said.

Calder Woods’ annual Christmas tour of lights event Dec. 8 offered residents “free photos with Santa” that they could send to their families. (For more, see page 11A.) Beaman was also their Santa. He posed near their new construction site for a photo session and a 30 second commercial for Calder Woods that aired the first week of December.

Residents’ Christmas wishes varied from peace on earth to a red Porsche, Beaman later posted in his Santa Lloyd Facebook group.

Beaman sometimes goes to events to fill in for other area Santas who canceled or were overbooked.

Kelly Hinson, a Sour Lake resident, asked Beaman to come to her holiday party on short notice. She wanted to make Christmas happen for several children whose families were struggling because she had some difficult years. Hinson contacted four Santa Clauses, but Beaman was the first to respond to her messages.

“I have a 3-year-old now, and I’ve been a single mom since I was pregnant,” Hinson said. “I hit a rough patch during Christmas two years ago. I lost my job; I literally was about to lose my vehicle.”

A supervisor at her new job found out that she was living with her cousin and out of her car and helped her get into an apartment, she said. After that, she said, “I busted my butt; I felt like I owed it to them and the company.”

Last year, Hinson hit difficult times again when her father passed away suddenly and she had to pay funeral expenses. This year, she bought a new car and moved into a home just a few weeks ago.

“I’ve done very well this year, and I’ve adopted a lot of kids for Christmas,” Hinson said.

She asked Lloyd to pass out the toys to the children Dec. 10, so the gifts came from Santa and not from her. Thirty-five people, including 22 children, attended her party, Hinson said.

“I just wanted to celebrate going from rock bottom,” she said. “I’ve made $150,000 this year; I’m very blessed, and I help wherever I can.” 

She said she invited some “kids from church, some I knew personally,” but “there were people I have never met at my party.”

“It’s definitely something when you’ve got someone like him willing to come out,” Hinson said.

Mike Sheffield, another local Santa scheduled at the Salvation Army’s bicycle drive on Dec. 15, said Beaman filled in for him at a holiday party at a local electrician’s group the weekend before because he was sick.

Santa Lloyd also made appearances at a Nederland church and Providence on Major senior apartments this season.

Several people have donated to help Beaman play his part even more effectively, he said.

“Just recently, people started giving me contributions because I’ve been able to get my suit through a contribution,” he said. “I got my glasses through a contribution.”

Beaman has a hard time not being in character since he doesn’t have to be in his suit to look like Santa.

“I go as the distraction,” he said. “I went to the mall last weekend, and Santa Claus was up there with the children and the children wouldn’t look at him and […] the camera, because I was on the outskirts.”

This is not Beaman’s only theatrical venture. In the early ’90s, he played the disciple Matthew in First Baptist Church of Beaumont’s annual Passion Play at Julie Rogers Theater for about four years.

During the rest of the year, Beaman and his wife go to the Texas Renaissance Festival as “friends of the king.”

Beaman is also a home gardener in his off time, selling grapefruit and other produce through Facebook groups. He has shipped his produce as far as California and Virginia, as well as selling locally.