Welcome to USA Christmas Town,
where the spirit of a community is inspired by the selfless actions of one man, almost 125 years ago. We all want to believe that our efforts will have a lasting legacy – that we can indeed “change the world” – but very few of us will ever know for certain the impact our lives will have on the world around us. Such is true of James Edgar, a humble but generous businessman who was in the business of caring.
Known for his kindness to the citizens of Brockton, MA by providing clothing for children less fortunate and medical care for those who fell ill, it wasn’t until one Christmas season that Mr. Edgar would do something so innocuous it would, in fact, change the world. Who can say when the thought came to him to assume the personality of Santa Claus – he’d dressed in costume to bring cheer and joy before – but Santa was different. Santa was miraculous! Able to circumnavigate the globe in a single night in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer, he captured the imagination of the world and all children wanted to believe in the jolly spirit who was able to dash up and down chimney’s bearing the treasures they so desired.
Imagine, or recall, what it must have been like to see Santa in person. It’s magical even now, when we expect to see him every day on every corner and shopping mall from Thanksgiving to Christmas – but imagine not expecting that. Imagine heading out to the department store with your parents to purchase fabric or a new pot or a pair of socks only to see a giant of a legend standing before you, smiling. Someone you have only heard about or saw a rendering of in a book. It is 1890, long before mass media, and life was shared through stories told around the hearth.
When James Edgar put on that Santa Suit he changed the world. He changed Christmas for every child who had belief in their hearts. He changed how we celebrate the season. He created a tradition for each one of us who has ever made a trip to any major department store in any mall in America – he was the First Department Store Santa and any miracle that occurred on any street in any city first occurred at Edgar’s Department Store in Brockton, MA – USA Christmas Town.
125 years later and Brockton still stands, some of the original buildings and even some of the businesses. Many have fallen as a result of a changing world. Two world wars, a major depression, the growth of industry, and the decrease in US manufacturing have all taken their toll on a city that boasts many historical “firsts” – but Brocktonians are a people of champion and fight on, each day, in true spirit and strength. It is for this reason that we have created a year round spirit of celebration in Brockton to share the inspiration of James Edgar with the world, once again.