GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — It’s one of the greatest honors a Santa portrayal artist can receive.
A Guilford County Santa is the latest North Carolinian to join an exclusive club – earning a spot in the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame.
Jac Grimes says his mentor Dean Shelton and late son Robbie inspired him to become a Santa portrayal artist.
Grimes and his wife Liz adopted five of their six children, including Robbie, a child living with HIV.
FOX8 covered Robbie’s story from the 90s until his passing in 2003.
Grimes remembers when Robbie was not feeling well and Shelton offered to visit him in his Santa suit.
“I’ve had a beard most of my adult life, but it was red at the time. After he left, I turned to my wife and I said, when this turns white, I think that’s what I might do,” Grimes said.
After learning the profession at a Santa school in 2006, Grimes officially became “Santa Jac.”
Since then, Grimes has made a footprint throughout the Piedmont creating memorable moments for families.
Among his many public and private appearances, Grimes stops at Women’s Hospital to take photos with babies.
“The way he looks at them is the way every baby should be gazed upon,” Director of Volunteer Services Ginger Penley said.
It’s estimated that Grimes has been photographed with 500 babies over the last 13 years.
That, in part, inspired Penley to reach out to the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame.
“He is Santa 365 days a year,” Penley said. “He has his heart where it should be.”
Grimes was inducted into the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame for the class of 2018.
“I’m honored. I’m humbled that they would consider my work sufficient for that recognition,” he said.
Grimes is the fourth North Carolina Santa to receive this honor.
The other three conducted his induction ceremony earlier this year.