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Grand Rapids family hoping to spread Christmas Joy during pandemic

Posted at 2:41 PM, Dec 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-06 15:35:11-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Much like they have in recent years, the Cancler family is trying to spread Christmas Joy this holiday season.

Bruce and Paulette Cancler dress up as Mr. and Mrs. Claus, respectively, and pose outside their home in a makeshift winter wonderland.

The Canclers partially decided to don the festive outfits this year because of all their new neighbors with young kids.

"We decided that we wanted to bring more people, because we got a lot of new neighbors and kids around here, so we thought it would be best to start doing this again," Paulette said.

Families are welcome to come visit them for a socially-distant photo opportunity, as the Canclers simply want to spread a little Christmas joy after what has been a dreadful year for most.

"I decided to be Cancler Clause from here all the way until Christmas," Bruce said. "Every Saturday before Christmas, to bring some joy. Kids come by, take a picture with Santa Claus, and also get a toy."

Kids who visit the Canclers will get a stocking filled with a few toys, most of which were donated by a few generous families to the Canclers. Those volunteers also helped decorate the Cancler's front yard, turning it into a Winter Wonderland.

"I was amazed with all the volunteers that came out and helped decorate and get stockings and gifts for the kids, that's why we decided to do it again this year," Paulette said.

The Canclers told Fox 17 back in 2017 that they wanted to bring representation as a Black couple to the iconic holiday duo, partially for Black children who have never seen a Santa that looks like them.

They felt that that representation was just as, if not more important, in 2020.

"To bring some African American Santa today for kids, especially now, they need to see a black Santa," Bruce said. "They need to see something different than they normally see, we just want to bring diversity to the world."

While Bruce feels good knowing that he can represent Santa for his community, seeing the happiness on the faces of children and parents gives him the energy to dress up as Santa every year.

"It's nice to see a smile on their face, it's all that matters," Bruce said. "One child smile, one parent smile, that's all that matters, just one smile on our face is worth a million."

If you're interested in getting your picture taken with Santa Claus, you can contact Paulette for more information at (616)734-3394 or email her at