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Middletown’s Fire Department and the New Middletown Department Store Team Up to Bring Santa to Life

Published: December 18, 2023
Image of the store front of the recently opened New Middletown Department Store, located at 29-35 North Street in Middletown, New York. (Image: Courtesy New Middletown Department Store)

Throughout the month of December, Middletown residents have had the opportunity to visit with Santa Claus at Middletown’s newest department store, New Middletown. 

The New Middletown Department Store, which held its grand opening event on Nov. 17, is located in the recently remodeled Tompkins building at 29-35 North Street in Middletown, New York.

With just a few days to go before Christmas, Middletown residents still have a chance to meet with Santa and finish any last minute Christmas shopping. 

Santa will be spreading joy and be available for pictures on Christmas Eve from 12 pm to 3 pm.

For the last minute shopper, New Middletown offers a wide variety of goods, including an exclusive selection from the Shen Yun Collection which features fine jewelry, silk and cashmere items, premium leather products and more. 

For the men in your life, New Middletown’s mens collection will inspire that perfect gift. 

Shoppers will also find a wide selection of “Made in USA” goods, as well as a number of handpicked goods from around the world. 

Santa brought to life

It has been over 40 years since Santa has graced the Tompkins building, however this year he is back thanks in part to a team up between the local fire department and the New Middletown Department Store.  

Lili Zhou, New Middletown’s CEO, told Vision Times that she is “really happy” that she could collaborate with the fire department this year and that throughout the month of December the store has been collecting donations with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Middletown Fire Department. 

Nick Barber, chief of the fire department in Middletown, NY, plays Santa Claus at the New Middletown department store on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. (Image: Vision Times Staff)

Dawning Santa’s suit and sitting with children is none other than the Chief of the Middletown Fire Department, Nick Barber. 

Barber told Vision Times that as Santa he is “out supporting peace and love for everybody.”

“Everybody has a job to do. Santa’s job is to help the needy and to give everybody the toys that they wish for and make everybody happy,” Barber said.


Santa’s origins

Santa’s origins can be traced back to the third century’s St. Nicholas.

Nicholas, who was born in the village of Patara in Asia Minor, was raised Christian by his wealthy parents. 

However, he was orphaned at a young age due to an epidemic and decided to obey Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor.” Subsequently, he used his considerable inheritance to give to the needy, the sick and the suffering.

He became known for his generosity and love of children.

Raised by the church, Nicholas became a bishop, and was persecuted under the Roman Emperor, Diocletian, who was known for his ruthless persecution of Christians.

Diocletian exiled and imprisoned Nicholas.

Little is known about his life after being released; however, it is believed that he died on December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church.

In what is considered a miracle, a liquid substance, manna, which many believe has healing powers, formed in his grave, which fostered the growth of devotion to St. Nicholas.

Over the centuries, St. Nicholas’s deeds, and life, have been memorialized in different ways by different cultures.

In Holland he is known as Sinterklaas, and in the United Kingdom he is known as Father Christmas. 

In France he is known as Père Noël or Papa Noël and in Sweden he is called Tomte or Jultomten, a creature based in Swedish folklore.

Nearly every country has a different depiction of Santa and accompanying traditions, however in North America, Santa remains a jolly old bearded man in a red suit, bringing joy to children on Christmas day.