FITCHBURG (CBS) – Every holiday season, kids line up to see Santa, sit on his knee, and let him know what they’d like for Christmas. But children can be messy, and it’s tough for Santa to keep his suit clean.
That’s where a dry cleaner in Fitchburg comes in. For more than half a century Crystal Cleaners has been making sure Santa’s suit is festive and fresh, all season long. And they do it for free.
“I kind of do it a little selfishly because I hope my name stays on the ‘good’ list. I don’t want to be on the ‘naughty’ list,” says Marty Lessard at Crystal Cleaners.
His family has owned the Fitchburg business since 1951. “As far as I can remember we’ve never charged Santa,” he says.
Every December Santa and his many, many helpers are treated to free suit cleanings. “We’re averaging about 10 a week,” Marty says. “I’m one of Santa’s helpers,” Dan Cunningham says as he brought his Santa suit in today after a weekend tree lighting.
“Something like this I’m sure would cost a few pennies to get clean. But he’s the kind of guy that just goes ahead and does it for nothing,” Cunningham says.
For Marty and his family it’s all part of the holiday spirit. “It’s really nothing compared to what Santa does, bringing joy to so many families,” he says.
It’s actually a specialized cleaning. They have to worry about the colors so the red doesn’t run onto the white.
And of course we had to ask- what are the toughest Santa spots to tackle? “The most common actually is milk. The milk and cookies. Sometimes he spills a little milk on himself. The helpers, some of the children will, maybe, have candy on their hands and that gets on the suit,” Marty says.
Marty is definitely on Santa’s “nice” list. “He’s been very, very generous to me over the years, and if I can do a little to help him out, but all means I do that,” he says.
Marty’s sister, Mary Jane, who also works at the shop, is a Santa’s helper on her own. She collects toys to give to Fitchburg kids.