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Pancho Claus tradition returns for 40th year thanks to generous hearts of Houstonians

A lack of donations due to the pandemic threatened to cancel the toy giveaway and parade, but locals stepped up to protect the longtime tradition.

HOUSTON — The infamous man in his zoot-suit, Pancho Claus was out carrying out a Houston Christmas tradition. 

Saturday marked the 40th year of the Pancho Claus’ Christmas toy giveaway parade. The event was in jeopardy due to lower than usual donations.

Nani Gonzalez said the community stepped up and helped make it happened, "We were able to spread a lot of holiday cheer.”

Gonzalez, a 20-year volunteer with the Pancho Claus organization, stepped in for Richard Reyes, ensuring the tradition continued.

“Richard Reyes, unfortunately is a little under the weather today, so he asked me to step in,” Gonzalez said.

The organization was able to reach well over its $30,000 fundraising goal. Last-minute donations that captured the Christmas spirit for those who received gifts.

“It's great. It's a happy day for everyone," Celete Silva said. 

"I came running — I live right there, and I came running because I want a present, too,” Alicia Castro said. 

Gonzalez said Reyes had a special message to share.

"Richard also wants everyone to know that Pancho Claus is not just Richard Reyes, Pancho Clause is the community.”

The organization has started a GoFundMe campaign to keep the tradition going. Click here to support.

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