Local Santa posthumously honored in Ogden's Christmastime kickoff

Tuesday , November 21, 2017 - 6:00 AM1 comment

MARK SAAL, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — Mike Wiggill had just two wishes on his holiday bucket list.

One was to portray Santa Claus at Ogden’s Christmas Village; the other, to ride as Santa in the city’s Holiday Electric Light Parade.

That first wish was fulfilled about 15 years ago, when Wiggill became one of the mainstay Santas for Ogden’s yearly Christmas Village celebration. The other will be realized — symbolically — on Saturday, Nov. 25.

Nine months after his death.

• RELATED: Pleasant View's Mike Wiggill remembered as true Santa

Wiggill died Feb. 20, at age 57, of brain cancer. To many in the Ogden area, he was Santa Claus.

“He lived the Santa life,” Ogden Public Services Director Jay Lowder said. “Even in the off-season, he was dressed in red.”

• RELATED: 2017 Ogden Christmas Village opening day, Electric Light Parade announced

Wiggill’s widow, Linda Wiggill, of Pleasant View, vouches for the fact there was no “off” switch for her husband’s love of all things Christmas-y.

“He was the Santa,” she said. “He’s got more red shirts in his closet than I’ve got shoes. You name it, it was just about red every day — red, or some kind of green.”

But Wiggill didn’t just look the part.

“He enjoyed seeing other people feel the joy of Christmas,” Linda Wiggill said. “And he did it more than just at Christmas time. He was that way throughout the year, wanting to make people smile, and laugh, and for a brief moment feel joy inside. The worldly ways can get to be drudgery, and he wanted to bring joy to their lives outside the Christmas season.”

For these and other reasons, the city council and mayor recently issued a joint proclamation declaring Nov. 25 “Michael David Wiggill Day” in Ogden. He and his family have also been named this year’s honorary mayors of Christmas Village, and his wife and son will ride in the parade — something Mike Wiggill had always hoped to do.

“This would be so thrilling to him,” Linda Wiggill said. “How ironic that in his passing, now his family gets to ride in the parade, in honor of him.”

Linda Wiggill said she’ll be wearing a lanyard around her neck with a photograph of her husband.

“In a sense he’ll be there, riding in the parade,” she said.

Linda Wiggill said she and the couple’s son, 23-year-old Nick Wiggill, of Roy, are “honored beyond words” for the recognition they’re receiving from the community.

Nick Wiggill is short for “Mikel Nicholas Wiggill.” And yes, his middle name was given in honor of Father Christmas.

“He was born in January, which was close enough to Christmas,” Linda Wiggill said. “My husband wanted to name our son ‘St. Nick’ — but I just couldn’t do that.”

The parade is only part of the traditional holiday fun that takes place on the Saturday after Thanksgiving in downtown Ogden. The annual Utah Santa Run — a 5K run requiring participants to dress as Santa Claus — begins at 4:30 p.m. near 22nd Street and Washington Boulevard. Registration is $36.50-$46.50, with various discounts available, and includes a Santa hat, beard, jacket, pants and belt.

Keeping with the theme of the evening, the race features milk-and-cookie aid stations as well as volunteers dressed as elves.

For more information on the Utah Santa Run, visit runsanta.com or call 801-335-4940.

The Holiday Electric Light Parade begins at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at 22nd Street and Washington Boulevard. The event, featuring dozens of floats lit up for the nighttime parade, will continue south on Washington to 27th Street.

Immediately following the parade, at about 6:30 p.m., the official Christmas Village lighting ceremony takes place in the Ogden Amphitheater, 343 Historic 25th St. Along with Santa, flipping the switch to illuminate the lights this year will be Make-a-Wish child Casey Spaulding, of Ogden. The 5-year-old boy has a form of Muscular Dystrophy.

The theme for this year’s Christmas Village is “Let’s Get Crack’n.” Fireworks will follow the ceremony.

All events, except the Santa Run, are free. Christmas Village will be open daily through Jan. 1.

Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, or msaal@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Friend him on Facebook at facebook.com/MarkSaal.

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