Ever heard of “Pancho Claus”?
“HOUSTON (AP) — He usually has black hair and a black beard, sometimes just a mustache. Like Santa, he wears a hat — though often it’s a sombrero. He dons a serape or a poncho and, in one case, a red and black zoot suit. And he makes his grand entrance on lowriders or Harleys or led by a pack of burros instead of eight reindeer.
Meet Pancho Claus, the Tex-Mex Santa.
Amid all the talk about Santa Claus’ race, spawned by a Fox News commentator’s remarks that both Santa and Jesus were white, there is, in the Lone Star State, a Hispanic version of Santa in cities from the border to the plains — handing out gifts for low-income and at-risk children.
Born from the Chicano civil rights movement, Pancho Claus is a mostly Texas thing, historians say, though there may be one somewhere in California. Lorenzo Cano, a Mexican-American studies scholar at the University of Houston, says Pancho was apparently conceived north of the border as Mexican-Americans looked to “build a place and a space for themselves” in the 1970s. His rise coincided with a growing interest in Mexican art, Cinco de Mayo, Mexican Independence Day and other cultural events.
Now, Pancho is an adored Christmas fixture in many Texas cities.”
Photo By HELEN L. MONTOYA/E-N/File
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Rudy Martinez, aka Pancho Claus, poses with Tamales
Photo By Nick de la Torre/CHRONICLE 32 of 37 Robert Smith, standing in Brown Plaza in Del Rio, may be the only non-Hispanic Pancho Claus in the state. He says tourists from the U.S. and Mexico like to pose with him.
Photo By Betsy Blaney/AP 33 of 37 In this Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, photo, Julian Perez stands in his Pancho Claus suit in Lubbock, Texas. The retired 71-year-old has donned the Pancho Claus suit for 30 years to hand out gifts for low-income and at-risk children.
Photo By Eric Gay/AP 34 of 37 In this Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, photo, Pancho Claus, Rudy Martinez, right, walks through the halls of Knowlton Elementary School as he visits students, in San Antonio. Pancho Claus, a Tex-Mex Santa borne from the Chicano civil rights movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s, is now an adored Christmas fixture in many Texas cities.
¡Feliz Navidad, ya’ll!