Pancho Claus seeking help to continue gift-giving tradition for Houston-area children

Pancho Claus the Tex-Mex Santa is seeking help from the community to continue his longstanding tradition of spreading holiday cheer.

If you grew up in the East End, chances are you witnessed the generosity of a man wearing a zoot suit named Pancho Claus, a.k.a., Richard Reyes, who has provided toys for families in need for over 40 years.

CHRISTMAS MUSIC IS HERE: Christmas music has arrived on Houston radio. Embrace it. 

Reyes recently created GoFundMe page asking for support from the community to help raise funds to continue his traditional “Pancho Claus Project.”

“This year, because of the pandemic, will be our biggest challenge yet,” according to the GoFundMe page. “We have no sponsors this year.”

In a recent social media post, Reyes shared how HBO sent a crew out to interview him about his efforts and to film an event with volunteers decorating toy collection boxes.

HBO sent a crew from New York City to film us today Friday and tomorrow Saturday about Pancho Claus activities ….they…

Posted by Pancho Claus on Friday, November 13, 2020

“One question they asked me was how we were going to meet the demand of so many families in need as we have no sponsors,” Reyes said in the post. “I answered, I have faith in our community!”

The responses on Facebook have been positive, with many thanking Reyes for his contributions to the community.

“Not only was receiving a gift [from] you guys a blessing but now it’s our time to chip in and help out for the generations to come,” King Tj Eli said in a Facebook post.


Facebook user Stella Lujan wrote “Wow, so happy for you to finally be recognized for all the hard work you do every year for the children of the community.”

“Pancho Clause is a Houston legend…Thank you for all the years and still putting smiles on these kids’ faces,” Randy Cantu wrote in a Facebook post.

Starting with a $20,000 goal, Reyes’ GoFundMe has already surpassed its goal, earning over $30,000 as of this writing.

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Mel Gibson Plays Santa Claus in a Movie that Will Feel like a Christmas Gift to the Gibson Faithful and a Stunt to Anyone Else

In the years since Mel Gibson fell from the grace of his celebrity, we’ve been through the Mel Gibson-is-canceled stage (which happened but didn’t take), the Mel Gibson-gets-a-cameo-as-found-object-of-infamy stage, the Mel Gibson-crawls-back-to-nail-a-nutzoid-lead-role stage (remember “The Beaver”?), the Mel Gibson-has-become-the-hero-of-Z-thrillers-that-exploit-his-disreputability stage, the Mel Gibson-has-a-real-deal-comeback-with-“Hacksaw Ridge” stage, the Hollywood-still-won’t-accept-him-as-an-actor stage, and (at last) the Mel Gibson-barely-even-has-to-be-an-actor-because-he’s-now-a-meme stage.

How else do you explain the fact that he’s now playing Santa Claus?

In “Fatman,” Gibson is Chris (as in Cringle), and the joke of his performance is that with his spooky-sensitive blue-eyed stare, the crinkles-within-wrinkles that now frame those eyes, a beard of the most formidable bushiness that’s white on the bottom but with a dark mustache that curls upward, and a voice that scrapes the booming canyon depths to the point that he sounds like John Wayne with elocution lessons, he could pass for a real-world Father Christmas — or a backwoods serial killer.

This, in other words, is not your father’s grungy one-joke yuletide action comedy. , since part of the premise of their fandom is that Gibson’s movies, like “Dragged Across Concrete” or “Blood Father,” have now become parables of his “persecution.”

“Fatman,” as its title suggests, is much lighter fare, even if Chris is surely the grouchiest Santa on record. He lives in snowbound Canada, in a lonely picturesque farmhouse, along with his adoring wife, Ruth (played by the redoubtable Marianne Jean-Baptiste), who bakes Christmas cookies that look like they came out of your crunchiest butter dreams, and he’s got a personality that’s stern but benevolent, with one magical ability: When Chris looks at someone, he knows exactly who they are — their name, their history, the toys he gave them (or didn’t) as a child. He’s Santa as a psychic therapist.

That sounds like the premise for a fun movie, but “Fatman,” written and directed by the cult sibling team of Eshom and Ian Nelms (“Small Town Crime”), has an obvious plot that weighs it down like an anvil; at times, it’s like a bad Dan Aykroyd movie from the ’80s. Chris’s annual rite of Christmas toy delivery has, you see, been sliding off the rails. Too many kids aren’t behaving well; Chris isn’t about to reward any of that. So he strikes a deal with the U.S. government (which, as we learn, is already subsidizing him). He agrees, in the days after Christmas, to devote his workshop to building control panels for fighters jets.

The elves, led by the humorless Elf 7 (is it supposed to be a gag that they’re as loyal and functionary as androids?), step right up, and if you think this all sounds like a blah idea, you’d be right, though there’s one more spring-wire to the contraption. Chris is being pursued by a hitman, played by Walton Goggins with swept-back hair and a sociopathic nonchalance that makes him seem like a cartoon version of the young Jack Nicholson crossed with Peter Weller. Why is a psycho in black turtlenecks pursuing Santa?

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