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'Vital part of everyone’s Christmas tradition is gone': Popular Mall Santa has died

For 10 years the Hawley’s have played the role of Mr. and Mrs. Claus at Londonderry Mall.

They met and posed for photos with countless children over the years. Not all photos featured smiles, but they were still memorable nonetheless.

“The little fella was a little bit nervous and Santa said well if he’s going to scream we’re all going to scream,” Dana Hawley, also known as Mrs. Claus, recalled during an interview with CTV News in 2017.

The couple's favourite part of the holiday role was when the mall hosted special visits for children with sensory issues.

Dana & Cecil Hawley, also known as Mr. and Mrs. Claus. (File)

“It brought them so much joy just to be able to give those kids that extra, extra time and make them comfortable enough to be able to experience Santa and Mrs. Claus,” said Nicole Davis, the Hawley's granddaughter.

Mrs. Claus is now without her other half.

“Unfortunately he did pass,” said Davis. “He went peacefully though. He passed at home.”

Cecil Hawley, best known in Edmonton as Santa, died last weekend.

“We are deeply sad to hear of the passing of Santa Cecil who was part of our Londonderry holiday tradition for many years,” a spokesperson from Londonderry Mall said in a statement.

‘Our deepest condolences to Dana and the rest of the family. He leaves a magical legacy and will be truly missed by all,” the statement continued.

In 2017 Cecil spent six months in the hospital battling an infection. He was in a coma for 3 weeks and spent 10 weeks in the intensive care unit.

“Ever since papa got out of the hospital his health was never 100 per cent,” said Davis.

At that time Davis asked Edmontonians to send her their photos with Mr. & Mrs. Claus to help lift his spirits.

“I always knew that there was a lot of people that loved coming to visit my grandparents at the mall but until papa got sick I didn’t realize how many, how big that community was,” she said.

“When I got thousands of photos. . . I was blown away. My whole family was.”

Cecil was released from hospital just in time for Christmas that year, but had to take the season away from the mall.

There was more to Cecil than just being Santa.

Cecil Hawley served in the military and as a firefighter in Halifax, NS. (Supplied)

He served in the military for 27 years and spent about 15 years as a firefighter in Halifax.

“He was in the Black Watch, honour guard to the Queen Mother. He was a cab driver, he did security, he worked at Brinks,” Davis said.

"He never failed to bring that up every time we passed one of their vehicles,” she remembered with a laugh.

She said he also spent time working with disabled children in Edmonton.

But of all the different hats he wore in his lifetime, Davis said the Santa hat was by far his favourite.

He wore the red suit at every opportunity.

Cecil Hawley, also known as Londonderry Mall's Santa. (Supplied)

“He brought that suit to Cuba and he dressed as Santa in Cuba,” she said laughing. “He wore it to my graduation party when I graduated college a couple years ago.”

Cecil also wore it on a cross-country road trip and during a barbecue he hosted for a crew doing construction on his street.

Cecil Hawley without his Santa suit. (Supplied)

Davis said even without the suit her "papa" was Santa.

“When kids would see him at grocery stores, they would stare and he would just kind of,” she said as she made a ‘be quiet’ gesture.

“Papa was always really good with kids,” she added.

Cecil Hawley, also known as Londonderry Mall's Santa. (Supplied)

A service is being held at the Kingsway Legion on April 28 from 1pm to 5pm. The public is welcome to pay their respects.

“Christmas will never be the same here in the city,” said Davis as she fought back tears.

“Because now a vital part of everyone’s Christmas tradition is gone.” Top Stories

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