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The story of Turlock’s new real Santa

The story of Turlock’s new real Santa

Turlock author Kristy Haile and her son Ty have written "I Am Santa" based on Ty's adventures as Santa Claus.

POSTED September 28, 2010 10:10 p.m.

Nestled in a quiet Turlock neighborhood is a 5-year-old boy with rosy cheeks, a shy smile, and a twinkle in his eyes.

Like other 5 year olds, Ty Haile likes watching cartoons and playing with his toys, but unlike other 5 year olds, Ty is Santa Claus.

Since Ty was a toddler he has been proclaiming himself to be the new real Santa Claus. He’s outfitted himself with a red suit that he wears regularly and keeps a running tally of who’s on the naughty and nice list. Ty’s adventures as jolly old Saint Nicholas and the journey it has taken his family on, is the inspiration behind his mother Kristy Haile’s novel “I Am Santa.”

The novel tells the story of Nicholas, a 4-year-old boy who meets a sick old man in a shopping mall who says he is Santa Claus. After some conversation, the man tells Nicholas that he will be the new real Santa. Nicholas persuades his mother to buy him a Santa suit, which he wears all year long, describing to his family his late-night trips to the North Pole.

The reactions to the 4-year-old Santa Claus vary widely in the novel, as they did in real life, Haile said, even among Ty’s father, Reece Haile, 10-year-old sister, Ellalyn, and the extended family.

“At first it was just something to play along with, but as it continued on and he would tell us these stories about the North Pole and the elves, we saw how serious he was about it,” Haile said.

Ty’s life as Santa Claus came with its own learning curves for the family, especially when Ty decided to don his red suit on a daily basis, but eventually, Haile says the family came to embrace and cherish Ty’s individuality.

“Over time, my husband came to better understand our son and how important his imagination is,” Haile said. “Early on, I had focused a lot on my daughter, but this Santa experience got me to pay more attention to my son. It was a journey for the entire family, resulting in better understanding and appreciation of each other.”

Haile’s novel is a fictionalized account of the family’s real experiences, but it also broaches the acceptance and belief two parents came to have in their son.

“We don’t want to put our son in a box,” Haile said. “We want him to be who he is meant to be.”

“I Am Santa” (Happy Bean Publishing) is currently available on e-book from and The paperback version comes out Saturday. Both Haile and Ty will be at the Border’s at 2831 Countryside Dr. in Turlock from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday for a book signing.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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