Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And he lives in North Pole, Alaska, a town of around 2,000 people where he won a seat on city council in October 2015. And you're going to want to leave out more cookies.
Born Tom O'Connor, Santa changed his name a decade ago while living in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, where he played Santa over the holidays for charities. After growing out his hair and his beard to look the part, he decided to fully embrace the role one night after finding himself at a crossroads.
The former NYPD cop and clergyman was taking a walk and praying for direction in life one day when someone drove by and yelled, "Santa, I love you!" O'Connor's prayers were answered. In 2013, he took his new life a step further by moving to North Pole, where streetlights are decorated as candy canes, streets are named Snowman Lane and St. Nicholas Drive and the city's official slogan is, "Where the spirit of Christmas lives year round."
Santa helps keep the holiday spirit by defending the rights of medicinal cannabis patients. During the summer of 2015, he fought against a measure from city council that would have banned marijuana dispensaries in North Pole. Santa currently uses cannabis to treat his own cancer, so the issue was especially important to him.
He's also a crusader for children, working with organizations and agencies that ensure the health, safety, and welfare of vulnerable kids. And he calls on state and federal legislators to draft, sponsor or pass legislation that will improve the lives of children.
And he wants others to do the same. When children ask if he wants to know what they'd like for Christmas, he asks them to do something for others instead.
Check out this clip of him discussing his advocacy work and his naughty and nice lists: