Sheriff’s deputy helps save Christmas here

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 22, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

The Grinch almost stole Christmas from the children of Suffolk, but, in rode Sergeant Robert Vaughan of the Suffolk Sheriff’s office to save the holiday! He’s stepped up to offer his very believable portrayal of Santa Clause so that the Downtown Business Association’s (DBA) &uot;Santa House&uot; opened as scheduled Saturday.

Vaughan accepted the role of Santa after it was discovered that the man who was portraying Santa for the DBA, James Summerlin, is a convicted felon on probation. Of course, once his background was discovered, Summerlin was immediately dismissed by the DBA.

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Andy Damiani, president of the DBA, said Summerlin had served as Santa for three years, without any problems.

&uot;Parents liked him, and they took their children to see him and there were never any problems,&uot; said Damiani. &uot;Had we known about his criminal past, he would never have served as Santa. We are, of course, delighted that Sgt. Vaughan has stepped in to play Santa for the rest of the Christmas season.&uot;

Summerlin, according to court records, called in a bomb threat in April 2000, to the Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority. The records show that he said, &uot;I would hate to have to blow up the building to get your attention.&uot; He was convicted in July 2000.

The DBA began scrambling Thursday to find a suitable Santa to greet children at the Santa House located at the Suffolk Visitor Center. The little house was recently refurbished by the Target Corporation volunteers.

With his typically humble attitude and the heart of a true Santa, Vaughan stepped into the jolly ol’ elf suit to welcome children at the Santa House, and for a $3 fee, families received three photos with Santa Claus. Proceeds will benefit the United Way.

&uot;I’ve played Santa on several occasions including church programs and for civic groups and even in a few private homes for peoples’ grandkids,&uot; said Vaughan. &uot;I certainly enjoyed meeting the children and hearing all their Christmas wishes and I am glad we could get past the problems so that we can all share in a joyous and peaceful holiday season.&uot;

Vaughan has served as a deputy sheriff for almost 16 years. He also retired from the Army after 23 years. He is a member of the Suffolk Fraternal Order of Police, the Moose Lodge, and Veterans of Foreign Wars. He serves the civil process supervisor for Sheriff Raleigh H. Isaacs.