Just after Christmas last year, the man who brought smiles to thousands of faces over the years portraying Santa Clause at the Ruggiero Family Memorial Home-sponsored tree lighting in Orient Heights Square and other community events died suddenly.
Peter Felt brought joy to children, adults and seniors alike each and every Christmas season playing Santa during Eastie’s tree lighting ceremonies, caroling events and special holiday luncheons and dinners.
Sadly, Felt died on January 3, 2020 just a few weeks after playing his beloved Santa role for the last time during Eastie’s holiday season.
In honor of his memory and the fact that COVID has cancelled the annual tree lighting that Felt was a larger than life presence at year after year, the Ruggiero Family Memorial Home has decided to hold a toy drive in Felt’s honor.
“Earlier this year we lost our dear loved one and favorite Santa Peter Felt,” said Joe Ruggiero III. “While safety concerns won’t offer us the opportunity to host the Orient Heights Tree Lighting, we are reaching out to the community for support in this cause. Every year Peter would deliver 100s of toys to families in need of a little help during the holidays and we want to keep this tradition alive in his memory.”
The Ruggiero Family will be collecting toys at the Funeral Home located at 971 Saratoga St. until Dec. 18. Residents can drop off toys Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. until then.
“If you are worried about social distancing, we will gladly accept any orders shipped to the funeral home at the above address,” said Ruggiero. “We will also pick up toys if you need us to so just give us a call at 617-569-0990”
All toys will be donated to the Madaro Family Community Fund that runs Eastie’s Elves; Mayor Walsh’s Annual Toy Drive; and other larger toy drives that distribute to families in need in Eastie and beyond.
Although Felt grew up in Revere and lived in Winthrop he was committed to numerous organizations here in Eastie as a volunteer. He would play Santa for the Chamber of Commerce, the Kiwanis and, a few weeks before Christmas, play Santa for dozens of children and adults with special needs at an annual dinner at Spinelli’s.
Mr. Felt wouldn’t hesitate to lend a helping hand, listen to a story or share a story with you.
“The impact Peter Felt had is endless. I was blessed to know him and love him,” said Ruggiero.
Mr. Felt was also an advocate for those struggling with addiction. At the time of his passing he had 44 years of sobriety under his belt.
“Thank you Peter Felt for always having your hand out and always willing to help another who was sick and suffering,” said Ann Marie. “They don’t make them like you anymore. You will be so missed.”