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Home Seasonal Events Winter Annapolis Santa Run goes on after loss of founding Father Christmas

Annapolis Santa Run goes on after loss of founding Father Christmas

Santa Run Ken Binnix 2 WKen Binnix, one of the founders of the Annapolis Santa Run, gets ready for the run. He died last year of leukemia.The original Santa Claus for the annual Annapolis Santa Run won’t be participating this year. He won’t be perched atop a fire truck on Dec. 13 as he was for a dozen years, smiling and waving and handing out candy canes to delighted children and collecting toys for the needy in neighborhoods across Annapolis.

Ken Binnix died in January after a long battle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and his death, at 70, left a huge hole in the charity drive that organizers say is impossible to fill.

Led by the Annapolis Fire Department, the Santa Run was launched 14 years ago by firefighter John Muhitch and Binnix, an Annapolis businessman who was the run’s first and most well-known Santa.

Muhitch is confident, however, that he’s found the perfect replacement to fill Binnx’s role: Binnix’s son Mike, a longtime volunteer for the Santa Run.

“When I was first asked, I got a little nostalgic about it,” says Mike, 49. “Taking his place as Santa will be bittersweet.”

Click next below for details on this year’s Santa Run the evening of Dec. 13 including routes and what to donate.

Ken Binnix’s big heart and calm can-do demeanor were critical to the effort’s success, especially as it struggled through its early years, Muhitch says.

The original idea for the Santa Run was simple: distribute Christmas gifts to local families who couldn’t afford them. The process was equally simple. Volunteers Santa Run Ken Binnix Official Santa WKen Binnix was named Anne Arundel County’s official Santa last year.dressed up as Santa would ride a fire truck around pre-picked neighborhoods a couple of weeks before Christmas, collecting new, unwrapped toys from local families already alerted to the effort. The toys would be stored in a local warehouse, where volunteers assigned them to children who had been identified as needy by churches, schools and others. The Monday before Christmas, the toys would be delivered to the children’s families, to be handed out Christmas Day.

“This whole thing would not have happened without him that first year,” Muhitch says of Ken Binnix. “Every year I knew that I could count on him. … It was always a comfort the day of the Santa Run to hear his voice and see him get into character.”

The younger Binnix is no stranger to the Santa Run either, however. For several years, he drove the family van behind the fire truck to collect the donated toys, usually with a couple of his children along as elves.

He’s also no stranger to playing Santa. His father played jolly old Saint Nicholas not just for the Santa Run but at various church, school and community events, and his December schedule often was so crowded that Mike would step in to help.

“I am very grateful for Mike’s stepping up to take on his dad’s route,” Muhitch says. “It’s a pretty amazing family tradition, if you think about it. I knew that I had to ask him first. … I know his father would approve.”

Mike is excited about the new role. “I’ve always looked forward to this event, and so have my kids,” Binnix says. “It’s been a fun family tradition.”

But there is no replacing Ken Binnix. Last December, he was given a proclamation from the county executive naming him Anne Arundel County’s official Santa.

“Riding that fire truck and sitting with kids to hear their wishes and encourage them to be good was just a great honor for him,” Mike says of his dad. “He understood that for young children, he was Santa Claus and he wanted them to have that magic moment.”

Click next below for more details on the Annapolis Santa Run.

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