Over the weekend, Santa Claus was at Rock Hill's ChristmasVille.
He arrived downtown in a military jeep wearing an official Army Combat Uniform camouflage Santa suit fringed with white fur. The beard and the gut were the real deal and came from years of real Santa living.
Santa Claus, when you are him, and you believe in him, is real.
But talk about your jobs where the fine print says "travel included."
That same Santa Claus who excited York County's children is taking his sleigh all the way to Iraq - on a plane designated by the FAA as STNICK1 - to bring Christmas to those soldiers who sorely need a dose of joy.
This Santa Claus - who sometimes goes by the name "Dave Jordan" and has a second home in Rock Hill - will travel more than 10,000 miles in the next week as "America's Santa," in the words of the California man who set up the trip.
The chance came to Jordan because he reached out to Richard Rovsek, former Reagan White House events planner.
Rovsek offers services to soldiers across the country through "Santa's Foundation" in a mobile Santa's workshop, a "Believe in Santa Tour" and other charities for troops and families through his nonprofit foundations.
"We have found Santa," Rovsek said by telephone from California. "America's Santa."
Jordan, 66, runs a business called "Santa and Team" in Rock Hill, through which he makes appearances all over the region - including a regular gig at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport and volunteer work with the USO.
Jordan is a veteran himself - Vietnam, special forces, 1964 to 1969. He saw Bob Hope when in Vietnam and remembers the glimmer of joy that visit brought.
"I never forgot what it was like around the holidays," said Jordan, er, Santa.
That is the deal about Jordan - he is not a character. He does not dress up as Santa Claus. He is Santa Claus. His address is North Pole, with a Rock Hill ZIP code.
This Santa started in a red convertible one year in McAdenville, N.C. - with its annual town-wide lights display. After watching the magic of kids' faces as they tugged at his real beard, Jordan never looked back.
He is part of the volunteer group "Santa America," which offers Santa services all over the country. He spends much of his off-Santa time volunteering locally with the Patriot Guard and Rolling Thunder veterans advocacy groups.
Jordan is always Santa for local National Guard troops and families. At ChristmasVille this past week he did what he always does - steal the show.
So when Rovsek wanted to head to military hospitals and overseas, there was just one Santa he wanted to go with him and a handful of others.
Rovsek is a guy who gets things done.
He was the force behind the foundation that raised more than $100 million to refurbish the Statue of Liberty in New York.
After seeing a legless wounded soldier and that soldier's children from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., come to the Santa's workshop event last year, Rovsek decided that this year the show had to head to the war zone itself.
And he needed the one guy with a military background who could pull it off.
"These troops never complain; they deserve what we can offer them and a lot more," Rovsek said. "I had people all over telling me, this is Santa who can reach these military heroes.
"He has an official Army combat Santa suit! He's perfect!"
Jordan was floored by the offer.
"Santa for the troops," said this Santa Claus named Jordan. "But I was kind of booked. It is Christmastime."
But Santa has connections - a buddy in the "Brothers in the Red Suit" informal fraternity of Santas named Bill Davis agreed to take over some appearances.
Mrs. Claus - Santa's wife, Nona Jordan - agreed to stay home and take care of the preparation for Christmas Eve.
A good buddy from the Rolling Thunder veterans group, Chief Warrant Officer Steve Davis, the Iraq War veteran who runs the maintenance shop at the Rock Hill armory, even gave Santa a pair of brown desert boots to go with his black shiny boots.
"Don't want Santa getting sand in his socks," said Davis.
The trip aboard a donated plane starts Monday in San Antonio, Texas, at the Brooke Army Medical Center, then heads to Walter Reed, before STNICK1 heads across the sea to Kuwait, then Iraq.
Santa has a worldwide reach. Santa has far to go and many to see.
Santa is needed at military hospitals where so many young troops have lost legs or might have lost hope, and in the deserts of Iraq where American troops need some holiday cheer.
"I promise every child out there, I will be home for Christmas," said Santa Dave Jordan. "But I have some presents to give out first to some troops and their families who can't get home for Christmas.
"So I'm doing what Santa does - taking Christmas to them."
Want to help?
To read more about Santa's Foundation or to donate, go to the group's Facebook page or call 858-759-2000, or write to P.O. Box 2000, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067.