GALLIPOLIS — Chester Mike Polcyn, commonly known as the Gallipolis City Park Santa, was posthumously awarded the Gallia Chamber of Commerce’s highest honor, the Bud and Donna McGhee Award, Thursday night during the 81st Gallia Chamber of Commerce Awards Ceremony.
Polcyn died Wednesday after serving more than 40 years as the community’s personal Santa Claus, greeting generations of families in the Santa House in the park, the Gallipolis Christmas Parade and public functions throughout Gallia.
“This evening, it is a privilege for me to share with you the name of the person we are honoring with the Bud and Donna McGhee Community Service Award,” said Chamber Volunteer and previous McGhee Award recipient, Marianne Campbell. “However, we are pulled in two directions. We are excited to tell you who it is, but deeply saddened by his untimely death, yesterday.”
Campbell lauded Polcyn’s presence in the community for his decades of service to the community, beloved by children and adults.
“His commitment and dedication to being Santa was his passion,” said Campbell. “He gave his all.”
Polcyn first became Santa Claus when his first-born was in kindergarten and the school PTO needed a seasonal symbol to hand out Christmas treats. According to Campbell, the following year, Polcyn embraced his role as Santa by growing a beard and wearing a custom Santa outfit.
“Through the years, he became endeared to our entire community, providing cheer at community events, parades and schools,” said Campbell. “I’m sure those of you who have attended Christmas parades over the years clearly remember seeing Santa atop the Gallipolis Fire Department’s ladder truck with many young children excitedly surrounding him, thrilled to be with Santa and also having a memorable ride on the fire truck as the finale of each year’s parade.”
Polcyn suffered a broken leg in 2016 and retired from his role as Santa.
“Even though he is not with us in person this evening, he certainly is in spirit, and we share the sorrow with his loving family,” said Cambpell. “Our biggest disappointment is not having him here to personally be recognized and receive this honor. We want to again express our gratitude and appreciation for his four decades as ‘our’ Santa, his involvement and devotion to our community youth and all of us who are young in heart.”
Polcyn served on the Gallia County Local Schools Board of Education for 11 years and received multiple awards from various educational and youth-centered organizations throughout his life. He received a commendation from the Gallia County Commissioners. He is remembered as a U.S. Air Force veteran, a 4-H adviser and member of Calvary Christian Church. Polcyn worked with AT&T for 30 years, along with Ohio Bell and Ameritech.
Polcyn long credited his wife of 53 years, Karen, for her support in his role as Saint Nicholas. She survives him along with their three children, Michael Shannon (Leah) Polcyn, Kari Lynn LaBello and John Mark (Jennifer) Polcyn, and Chester’s grandchildren and a great-grandchild. He is also survived by other family and friends.
Chester’s obituary appears inside this edition of the Gallipolis Daily Tribune.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.