Even Santa Claus is living the Harley legend lately.
The jolly old elf has been spotted riding around Wyoming’s capital city on a Harley-Davidson appropriately bedecked with winking Christmas lights.
A stuffed Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer toy rides along with Santa, perched in a basket on the back of the bike.
Monday night, Santa had taken a little break from driving around town to sit and enjoy the snow coming down at Cheyenne’s Depot Plaza and look at all the Christmas lights.
“I’m usually downtown or down at the Depot where all the lights are on,” Santa told Cowboy State Daily. “I’ve got really good Arctic gear I wear under my suit, so if it’s really cold outside, I can be out there with my bike all lit up, going up and down Lincolnway, waving at kids and stuff. And I’m not cold at all.”
He loves Cheyenne’s Depot Plaza, which is aglow with lighted Christmas trees and photo frames. Holiday tunes add to the overall ambiance.
“Isn’t this perfect?” he said, laughing jovially and waving at families walking by. Some stop to chat with Santa for a bit, and grab a selfie with him for their social media page.
“A lot of people have flagged me down when I’m riding downtown,” Santa said. “And I’m like, yeah, sure, I’ll take a picture with them. It makes the kids happy and everybody likes it.”
He’s Literally From The North Pole
Cheyenne’s Santa on a Harley, whose ordinary everyday name is Rick Ramos, has a big advantage over most of what parents commonly refer to as a Santa’s helper.
Ramos actually spent the last 14 or so years living in North Pole, Alaska. He can honestly look any child in the eye and say with absolute, unwavering truth that he came straight to Wyoming from the North Pole.
He can even describe it to in realistic detail. There are reindeer everywhere, and Santa Claus, aka Kris Kringle, just happens to sit on the North Pole City Council.
“Kris Kringle is his legal name,” Ramos told Cowboy State Daily. “And that man, I don’t care what time of year it is, that man never breaks character. He is Santa Claus all year-round.”
North Pole has a reindeer academy in addition to its world-famous Santa Claus house, both of which are big tourist attractions all year-round.
“People would come visit the live reindeer and (Kringle) would be out there, with this big beard, feeding the reindeer,” Ramos said. “And he’s bald and wears glasses and he never breaks character at all. He just is Santa Claus.”
While Ramos lived in North Pole, he took advantage of the cool postmark to send out letters to the children of all his family and friends. That way, they would all get Santa letters straight from the North Pole around Christmastime.
“I also used to do interviews with Santa for everybody on my Facebook page,” Ramos added.
When Ramos moved to Wyoming from North Pole, he was looking for something to do to keep all the Santa fun rolling during the holidays.
How Santa On A Harley Came To Be Wyoming
Ramos found his opportunity to further the Santa legend during the pandemic. He had lots of neighbors with small children, and one thing they were all having trouble finding for Christmas was an opportunity for photos with Santa.
“There weren’t a lot of Santas around at the time,” Ramos said. “Everybody was masking up and all that other stuff.”
So, with the parents’ permission, Ramos ordered himself an authentic German-style Santa suit and arranged to make a grand entrance as Santa Claus for all of his neighbors’ children.
That way, they didn’t have to miss their moments with Santa, and his neighbors could all get photos of their children.
When he’s all suited up, Ramos is 100% in character as Santa Claus, and the knowledge he gained from living in North Pole, where all the reindeer play, doesn’t hurt his act one bit.
In fact, he’s so good at being Santa, he hasn’t had to advertise at all to keep busy. He’s got a Santa invitation for almost every night of the week this time of year.
“It’s all word of mouth,” he said. “And this year, it has really blown up, and it just seems to keep building.”
Ramos has brought Santa to life at several businesses, including Murdoch’s, and at charity events like a Christmas party for foster children, among others.
“I’m so glad they asked me,” Ramos said. “It was a really big deal for them, and you could tell it was kind of a highlight for their Christmas.”
Wishes That Break Hearts
Being Santa for the big guy is a huge responsibility, Ramos said, and he really puts everything into his act to make it fun and real for everyone who sees him.
“These kids, you know, you’re the most important person to them at that moment,” he said. “You’re the magic of Christmas, and they will bare their little souls to you and tell you things that just break your heart.”
Ramos gets a little misty-eyed thinking about some of the things children have asked him for over the years. Like the time a child told him all he wanted for Christmas was a family.
“I mean, what do you say to that?” Ramos said.
Another time, a 9- or 10-year-old child stammered out his dearest wish, and it was so plain and simple Ramos was almost speechless. The child just wanted a pair of warm boots.
“I’ll be honest with you, I was going to call that lady back who had me come do that one and find out who that kid was so I could take him to Murdoch’s and buy him some boots,” he said.
It’s not always young children who get excited to see Santa, either. Even teenagers, who want to play too cool for school, get excited too.
“Even the grumpy, snarky teenagers, whose parents are making them do it,” Ramos said. “I have four kids and I raised mainly daughters, so I get it. I’m like, ‘Listen, this will be cute on your Instagram. You know, just take a selfie for your Instagram.’”
Cellphones Have Made Santa’s Job Harder
Being Santa requires someone who can think fast on his feet and figure out just the right thing to say in the moment. Otherwise, a Christmas moment will be ruined, and no one wants that.
“These kids aren’t stupid anymore,” Ramos said. “The average kid has access to more information now with their cellphones than the president of the United States did 40 years ago.”
The kids are also often at an age where they just want to know everything about how the world works. How fast can your sleigh go? How can you get down the chimney? These are among the many questions Ramos has been asked by children who are not going to play ball if Santa can’t prove he’s the real deal.
“Thank God I lived in North Pole, and I actually know a thing or two about reindeer,” Ramos said. “And you know, you’ve got to come up with names for the elves, too, because of course they’ve all seen ‘The Santa Claus’ movie. So, you have to have a Bernard in there somewhere. I mean I’m serious. These kids are pretty smart, even the little ones.”
Spirit Of Christmas
Ramos is not looking for a paycheck from his Santa gigs. He just digs the laughs, smiles and the holiday way it makes him feel inside. There’s simply no better way to get in the Christmas spirit than to be the Christmas spirit for someone else.
“This time of the year, I’m like a superhero,” he said. “I have a ball with these kids. They crack me up.”
Once in a while, though, Ramos does get a paycheck for a Santa invitation. And he always knows exactly where that money is going. He’s a member of the Patriot Guard and Combat Vets biker groups, as well as commander of the American Legion Post in Cheyenne.
Because of that, he knows of all kinds of needs out there among veterans, whether it’s rebuilding a handicap-accessible porch, replacing a broken air conditioner or helping a veteran replace a transmission on a vehicle so that veteran can keep going.
“We do projects year-round for veterans, and we work with Volunteers of America,” Ramos said.
Santa gigs are not the only fundraising event Ramos is involved with, either. He helps with them all year wearing his Santa suit for poker nights and pint nights.
Come December, though, he’s ready for the Santa suit to come out for real, doing his part to keep that spirit of Christmas alive in everyone he meets.
Renée Jean can be reached at Renee@CowboyStateDaily.com.