By Connor McCarthy
OREGON CITY, Oregon (KPTV) — After a long battle with COVID-19 over summer, the Oregon City Santa is back out this year spreading Christmas cheer.
Keith McDonley has been dressing up as Santa for over a decade. He stands outside his house waving at cars, jingling bells, taking pictures with families, and collecting toys to donate to children in need. Except this year, he wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to make another Christmas after contracting COVID-19 and spending more than two months in the hospital.
“I got sick, I was hospitalized for 62 days, incubated on my birthday, released from the hospital in a wheelchair and on Oxygen,” McDonley said. ” When I was in the hospital, I put my Santa Hat on and started crying because I wanted Christmas.”
McDonley starts standing outside of his shortly after Thanksgiving and greets people all the way through Christmas Eve. He said it’s his favorite time of year and loves to emulate the holiday spirit. COVID-19 almost took him away from the warm and joyful feelings Christmas brings.
“It’s that feeling you don’t get any other time of the year,” McDonley said.
This year he was able to collect dozens of toys, take dozens of pictures, and wave at hundreds of cars three months after being released from the hospital.
“Being able to do this, help spread Christmas Cheer three months later, and almost be back to 100 percent, it’s a Christmas miracle,” McDonley said. “There’s nothing more I would want for Christmas.”
McDonely said he is grateful for everyone who supported him while he was in the hospital. Like this year, McDonley will be out next year in his community, jingling holiday bells and putting smiles on his neighbor’s faces.
“I learned more than ever this year, ” McDonley said. “Life can change at a moment’s notice. Don’t miss the holidays. Celebrate Christmas.”
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