The Few. The Proud. The Reindeer Guardians.

To Serve and Deliver Toys

Among the milling throngs of Santas at Sunday's SantaCon 2011, were puzzled tourists, laughing children, and many forms of post-modern irony.

For the Los Angeles Times (in words and pictures), the irony seemed uppermost: boozing Santas, bummed Santas, Santa vixens, and Santas straight from Tim Burton's imagination.

When my friends Mary Alice and Liam McLoughlin unexpectedly encountered the Santas at Union Station as they poured out across Alameda Street on their way to the old plaza, they found far more sweetness than snark.

They also found one of Santa's unsung helpers. His mission, he said solemnly, was to ensure the safety of Santa's reindeer. He gave Mary Alice and Liam a smart salute: To Protect and Serve Carrots.

May you and yours be as well protected this holiday season.

And may we all have a better 2012.

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D. J. Waldie, author, historian, and as the New York Times said in 2007, "a gorgeous distiller of architectural and social history," writes about Los Angeles on KCET's SoCal Focus blog.

The images on this page were taken by Mary Alice McLoughlin and are used by permission.

About the Author

D. J. Waldie is the author of "Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir" and "Where We Are Now: Notes from Los Angeles," among other books about the social history of Southern California. He is a contributing editor for the Los Angeles Times ...
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