Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

Santa Claus in Bear Valley Springs

Bear Valley Springs is a great place to live and it is the only area in all of Greater Tehachapi with its own Santa Claus! BVS has Jorge Melendez and his brilliant imagination to thank as well as his exceptional supervisor, Karolyn Hartmann, for the last several years of gatehouse decorations for various holidays and for their own private Santa.

Jorge and his wife, Elizabeth (his "Princess Charming" as he calls her), moved to Bear Valley Springs about six years ago with their daughter, Alyssa, and Jorge was almost immediately employed by the Bear Valley Springs Gate. In the first few years of his residency in BVS, he worked part time at odd hours but donned his Santa suit for all of his shifts starting December 1. A couple of years later working graveyard brought about a hiatus in his "Santa-ing." However, now that he is employed full time at the Gate working the day shift, he is Santa Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., December 1 through December 24. He even answers the Gate phone with "Ho, ho, ho. Merry Christmas. You have reached the North Pole." Jorge also works weekends at the Adventist Health Tehachapi Valley Hospital in the EVS Department (janitorial).

Karolyn mentioned that she has gotten an incredible amount of positive feedback from residents and visitors about Jorge and his costumes as he dresses for several holidays, not just Christmas. He wore a turkey on his head for Thanksgiving and a teddy bear costume for Halloween. He also sports his signature special occasion suspenders at both jobs. Jorge is quick to give credit to his co-workers both at the Bear Valley Springs Gate and at the Adventist Hospital for being very supportive of his ventures.

Many residents and visitors donate candy to the Gate for the holidays as well as lights and decorations for Christmas. This allows Jorge to give candy canes to children in the cars passing through the gate who respond to his, "Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas." He reveals that the contractors and company trucks that enter Bear Valley Springs, whom he calls his "little elves," are as delighted as the children to see him and he gives them candy as well. The highlight of his days, however, is waving to the three Tehachapi Unified School District elementary school buses when they exit the gate each morning on their way to school. The children are so excited to see him standing outside the guard shack on a rock waving at them and they press their noses to the windows and scream. It is very heartwarming.

The Melendez family may anticipate the tradition continuing over the years as daughter, Alyssa, loves costumes and, of course, has the excellent example of her father bringing cheer to all who enter (or exit) Bear Valley Springs. Many thanks to you, Jorge, for being such a positive influence in our little corner of the world.