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TF South alum Thomas Shomer dresses as Santa Claus to spread holiday joy

LANSING, Ill. (December 23, 2023) – From passing out Christmas cookies to dressing up as old Saint Nick, Thomas Shomer has been spreading joy and cheer during the holiday season for over five years.

Becoming Santa Claus

Shomer felt the need to spread holiday cheer even before he started dressing up as Santa.

During his freshman year as an undergrad at Valparaiso University, he used his remaining meal plan funds to purchase cookies from the campus mini-mart and passed them out around campus “to help alleviate stress for students during finals.”

By his senior year in 2019, Shomer was taking things a step further — he started dressing up as Santa Claus.

“I wanted to do something special for my last year at Valparaiso,” he said. “Students really enjoyed it, so I continued the Santa tradition going into my graduate studies at Marquette.”

Since coming to Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he has kept this tradition going, expanding it each year.

He recently upgraded his Santa suit by purchasing new boots, a bigger beard, and padding to replicate Santa’s infamous belly. He says he plans to continue to upgrade his Santa costume as needed.

Shomer’s final Santa appearance this season on the Marquette campus was at the university’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony on December 5.

“I took many pictures with families and kids, and it was great,” he said.

“This all started from having extra money at the end of the school year,” Shomer said, referring to his unused meal plan funds during his Valpo days.

Home for the holidays

Shomer is currently pursuing a PhD in mathematical and statistical sciences at Marquette. He was born and raised in Lansing. He attended TF South High School, graduating third in his class in 2016.

Although he mainly dresses as Santa on the campus of Marquette he decided to spread good cheer to the people of Lansing during his Christmas vacation.

While home for the holidays, Shomer dressed as Santa to visit Lansing Mayor Patty Eidam (left) and Lansing Police Chief Al Phillips. (Photo provided by Thomas Shomer)

He made stops at Lynnie Ques and JJ Kelley’s in Lansing to join in their Christmas festivities and take pictures with patrons while dressed as Santa.

“Being back home has been really great,” he said. “It has been nice to sleep in my own bed in my own room.”

Spreading joy and cheer

Shomer also spread Christmas cheer during a virtual meet and greet party for his upcoming summer internship with Allstate Insurance Company.

He connected with the event organizer to ask if he could attend the event dressed as Santa Claus. Many people were surprised when they saw him as they didn’t expect a visit from Santa Claus a week before Christmas.

Thomas Shomer, also known as Tommy, dressed as Santa for a meet and greet while home for Christmas break. (Photo provided by Thomas Shomer)

“It was a lot of smiling faces,” Shomer said. “People seemed to be relatively happy about it. It was overall a good time.”

He says it is a “fantastic feeling” to be able to put smiles on people’s faces during the holiday season.

When asked what his favorite holiday is, it is no surprise that he said “Christmas.”


Kinise Jordan
Kinise Jordan
Kinise Jordan brings local experience and a long list of journalism skills to her work with The Lansing Journal. She understands the need for reliable, factual information in equipping people to build community. An Audio News internship with WBEZ honed her interviewing skills and her sense of timing and deadlines. A native of Calumet City, Kinise is familiar with the interplay of local government, local schools, and local businesses.