By Heather Janssen

CITRUS HEIGHTS (CBS13) – Taking photos with Santa Claus is a special, annual tradition for kids and their families. Though families in the Sacramento area say one Santa stood out among the rest.

Now in retirement, the former Sunrise Mall Santa faces health issues and is drawing support from the community.

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“We treasure these,” Katie Scott, whose children have taken photos with Santa for years. “Every year we pull them out, the kids reminisce.”

But five of those years stand out to their family.

“You could tell he liked what he was doing,” Chloe Scott, Katie’s daughter said.

“He” is Rick Farley, also known as Santa Rick or the Sunrise Mall Santa.

“He made a bigger impact than just a picture,” said Deia Warner, his daughter.

She said her ‘Father Christmas’ is the real deal, even in his off time.

“Kids that would tug on their parents and say, is that Santa Claus?” Warner said.

Rick’s wife, Sheri Farley, often captured as Mrs. Claus, said Rick fell in love with the job after a Christmas party.

“He said to me afterward, ‘That’s the most fun I’ve ever had,’ ” Farley said.

Then the near-decade-long tradition began, until it stopped in 2018. But the thrill of giving was never lost on Jolly Saint “Rick.”

He witnessed many magical moments, like this couple’s proposal, and listened to kids’ Christmas wish lists.

“The best part about being Santa is the look in the children’s eyes as they experience the Christmas magic through him,” Sheri said her husband told her.

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But this year, the Christmas magic isn’t coming from him.

“He was really worried about what the kids would think if he wasn’t there,” Sheri said.

The man who said he’d be Santa until the day he died, now faces health issues after suffering strokes. His memory isn’t what it once was.

But his legacy can’t be forgotten by the families who adored him, like the Scotts.

“I got a little emotional,” Katie Scott said. “Because we miss him.”

The roles are reversed in 2020 as the season of giving comes from families, instead. An outpouring of support on social media can be seen on a fan page created in his honor, with photos and messages left for his family to read.

“I read them to him every day,” Sheri said. “He’ll smile and say thank you.”

The true spirit of the season is felt by the Farleys.

“[I want] to thank everybody for making this so much more than he ever expected,” Sheri said.

The Sunrise Mall Santa can peacefully pass the hat to the next man in red.

Santa Rick’s daughter said she’s gotten many requests from people to send him cards or photos. She listed his address for anyone who wants to do so:

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You can address it to: Santa Rick, Mrs. Claus, Sheri Farley or Rick Farley at 179 N State St #304, Lindon, UT 84042.

Heather Janssen