, Salem, MA

Local News

December 26, 2012

Magic of Santa comes to patients, veterans


One Santa is a doctor — Dr. Barry Burrows, an obstetrician at Beverly Hospital. One of Burrows’ elves is a woman he delivered 20 years ago.

Brian McCarthy is another Santa. He’s the CEO of Energi, a Peabody insurance company where Nentwig works part time. McCarthy visits patients, then jumps on a plane with his family and flies to Florida for Christmas dinner.

Dressing as the jolly man in the red suit has led to experiences that Nentwig never imagined.

“Through my 31 years, I’ve been asked to stay three times by somebody when they expired,” he said. “I held hands with a person who died in the same room my wife passed away in.”

Santa’s Magic is supported by a legion of volunteers.

In addition to all of Santa’s helpers, there are businesses that give food, flowers, trucks, gifts — too many to mention.

There are a few special, or unusual, givers. Toomey’s Cleaners in Lynnfield cleans and stores all the Santa suits. Golden Shears, a hair salon in Peabody, gets all of Santa’s beards in shape. Nunan’s, a Georgetown florist, donates hundreds of poinsettias.

Unlike some other Christmas charities, Santa’s Magic visits largely adults, including many veterans and elderly. But age doesn’t seem to matter on Christmas Day.

“There’s something magical about Santa,” Nentwig said. “I don’t care what age you are. It represents safety, security, your childhood ...”

It can be a powerful experience — even for Santa.

“All of the Santas are (executives),” he said. “They take it very seriously. They get caught up in it and the good feeling for what they’re doing. It can get very emotional. It’s a good thing they’ve got a beard on.”

Tom Dalton can be reached at




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