Bucky Bailey, 2005 Newmarket Citizen of the Year

Gift for ‘Santa Claus’

By Kate Begiebing, Exeter News Letter, April 22, 2005

NEWMARKET - The Town Council opened its workshop Wednesday night with a proclamation for Elmer “Bucky” Bailey, otherwise known as Santa Claus.  Bailey and his wife are retiring after 28 years of welcoming children into their home around Christmas. The audience at the council workshop gave Bailey a standing ovation as he received the proclamation and declared “It was a labor of love.” He thanked everyone who has helped him over the years.

Community spirit alive at dance

By Jennifer Manley , Exeter News Letter, May 25, 2005

NEWMARKET - Elmer “Bucky” Bailey was named Newmarket’s Citizen of the Year, Club Chameleon entertained with campfire songs, local hairstylist Mr. Guy sang a little Old Blue Eyes and the Dot Shorey Memorial Scholarship Fund was rejuvenated.

All this before a heel even hit the dance floor at the community dinner dance held Sunday night at the Rockingham Ballroom.

The Newmarket Business Association put on the event. Vice president of the NBA, Tina Russell, estimated Sunday night that they sold about 120 tickets, and said she was pleased with the outcome.  The buffet dinner was provided by Joyce’s Kitchen, thanks to the efforts of head chef Paul Yarusites and Adam Russell. The Newmarket Police Association volunteered as servers and Chief Kevin Cyr was seen taking tickets at the door.

Elmer “Bucky” Bailey is presented with the Newmarket Citizen of the Year award by vice president of the Newmarket Business Association Tina Russell at the commmunity dinner dance, a benefit held at the Rockingham Ballrom Sunday night.

(Photo by Jen Manley)

Santa Claus is coming …

By Susan Nolan, Exeter News Letter, Dec 20, 2002

NEWMARKET - It’s a wonderful life at the Bailey house.  That’s because Santa Claus - the real one - has parked his sleigh on the front lawn of the Newmarket family’s Grant Road home for the past 26 years.  Though jolly old St. Nick takes off with the sleigh and the reindeer each Christmas Eve, he will be on hand this Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. to visit with area children.

Elmer Bailey, dressed as Santa Claus, displays presents in his front yard on Grant Road in Newmarket.

(Staff photo by Carrie Niland)

Bring the kids. Bring the camera. And when you’re done snapping shots of the kids in the sleigh with Santa, one of Santa’s six elves will take a family photo for you, using your family’s camera.  Last year 328 children from 41 communities and six states visited Santa. Over the years Santa’s seen thousands of children and has missed only one day in the sleigh.

That one day was last Saturday, when torrential rains drove Santa inside. “It was the first time in 26 years we canceled,” said Elmer “Bucky” Bailey who, with his wife Sandra, hosts St. Nick every season. “It was raining like a son of a gun.”  One year Santa sat outside during a blizzard, said Bailey, and that didn’t deter six kids from coming to share their Christmas lists with Santa. “Snow doesn’t bother us at all,” said Bailey. “It’s the rain. That would do in the elves’ suits.”  Bailey said he is not worried about this weekend’s weather. “From what I can see, it looks like Saturday’s a real good day and Sunday’s a little snow, which is real good for us,” he said.

“Santa’s elves will be here, too,” he said. “There will be six of them on duty.” The Bailey house is located at 21 Grant Road, about 200 yards from the intersection of Route 152. From downtown Newmarket, take Route 152 to Grant, the first left after Newmarket High School.  ”We’re about two football fields away from there,” said Bailey. The Bailey home is on the left where elves are on hand to help with parking.

This Santa’s a homebody

By Terrill Covey, Exeter News Letter, Dec 26, 2003

NEWMARKET – Santa Claus made his 27th pre-Christmas trip to Newmarket Sunday afternoon.  According to Sandra Bailey, whose house Santa visits each year, he comes to make sure he knows exactly what the children of Newmarket and surrounding towns want for Christmas.  ”You know why we keep doing this when you see the wonderful appreciation the little ones have,” said Bailey, who sees hundreds of people each Christmas outside her Grant Road home. “They love coming here and seeing him. We’ve had generations of people come here to see him.”

The Baileys, Sandra and her husband, Elmer, never intended for their home to be a stopping-off point for Santa during his busy holiday season. It started when Sandra got an idea for a lawn decoration. “I decided that I’d like to get a sleigh to put in the front yard,” she said. “So, I bought it without telling him (her husband), and he came home and asked what I was going to do with it.” She said it was her husband’s idea to have Santa come, and he told her that if she would make a suit to keep Santa warm, he would make sure that Santa would come.

(photo: Sandy & Bucky Bailey,  family photo)

“At first he just sat out there and waved at the vehicles going by,” she said. “But it grew from there. At first some high-school kids decided to stop by and chat with him, and sit in the sleigh, then it grew from there.”

These days Santa tends to see a younger crowd when he shows up at the Baileys’ house, but there are still occasional teenagers, and adults who will whisper their Christmas lists into his ears. The Baileys don’t use Santa’s visits as a fund-raiser. His visit is purely for the enjoyment of the children he visits with. In honor of Santa’s visit, Sandra said the Fleet Bank in Newmarket donates lollipops for Santa to give out to the children he sees.

“There are as many children from out of town as there are from in town,” Sandra said. “We’ve had people here from as far away as Glenn, New Hampshire.”  She said that in past years they have seen visitors from England, Bermuda, Hawaii, India and other faraway places.  

The Baileys have volumes of photo albums which trace more than a quarter of a century of visits from Old Saint Nick, and Sandra said there have been some memorable moments throughout the years. “There is one man, who teaches high school, who rides his bike here every year,” she said. “He gets pictures of it every year and he puts them on his desk to get his students into the spirit at Christmas time.  ”There was one time when a woman who works at a local kennel came by with nine or 10 spaniels,” she said. “They all sat and behaved long enough to get their picture taken, and she said she was using the picture for her next year’s Christmas cards.”

The allure of Santa continues to bring people, and dogs, out year after year. Sandra said that in a good year they see about 300 people over two weekends, although she expects only about 250 this year.  ”We didn’t see as many as usual last weekend, so I expect we’ll be around 250 this year,” she said. “Every year, after we’re done we say, ‘Can we do this another year?’ Then Christmas comes around again, and we get all excited and ready to go.”

Last chance to see Santa at home in Newmarket

By Jennifer E. Manley , Exeter News Letter, Dec 19, 2004

NEWMARKET - After 28 years bending his ear to the Christmas wishes of children, the Grant Road Santa is packing up the sleigh.

Elmer “Bucky” Bailey and his wife, Sandy, have spent many a cold weekend in their yard at 21 Grant Road in Newmarket, where families flock year after year to have pictures taken with Santa and deliver their lists in person. This Saturday and Sunday, with the help of their elves, the Baileys welcome for the last time as many as 200 children onto the most famous of laps.

Lucy, a beagle/bassett mix, looks up to Santa while visiting him on his sleigh on Grant Road in Newmarket on Saturday. Lucy’s owner, Mara Perry, of Newmarket, said the dog asked for turkey for Christmas.

(Photo by Jay Reiter)

“It’s been a lot of fun,” says Mrs. Claus with a sparkle in her eye and maybe a hint of nostalgia. It was she who brought home the red sleigh in 1974 with the intention of adorning the rock garden with it. She tells the story as she straightens Santa’s beard and brushes lint from his coat. When her husband came home that day, he asked why the sleigh had no Santa, and she answered by sewing him a red velvet suit. For the first few years, Santa just waved to passers-by, and then the visits started and the tradition was born.

The Baileys have seen their neighborhood grow by leaps and bounds over the past three decades, including a significant increase in cars traveling Grant Road. It was their mounting concern over the safety of their visitors in light of the increased traffic that ultimately made them decide to stop the weekend visits.  Bailey said that like all good things, this too must come to an end.

On Saturday, a queue of bundled children and camera wielding parents formed right at 2 p.m. Three-year-old Cooper Walsh came to see Santa Saturday to ask him for a fire truck, while Tyler, in a slightly more pragmatic move, asked for a new orthodontic retainer. Lucy (who is an energetic beagle/bassett mix) asked, naturally, for treats.

Santa also receives many written requests. He recalled a particularly ambitious youngster many years ago who handed him a letter listing the page and item numbers from the Sears-Roebuck catalog. He admits the wish lists have evolved over the years, with Playstation 2 perhaps topping it this year, but Santa said children are still basically the same.

Elves keep the line moving to Santa Claus.

(Photo by Jay Reiter)

So is Santa. He has long since worn through the original suit, but on the cusp of his 70th birthday he lives up to his reputation as a right jolly old sort.

This has become a dear Newmarket tradition that spans generations. Christine Brown has lived in Newmarket her whole life. As a child, she would visit this Santa nearly every Christmas season, and today she and her husband plan to bring their 5-day-old infant for her very first photo op with the bearded granter of wishes. Stephanie and Michael Wettstein moved to town only a few years ago and enjoy bringing their three girls to Grant Road each year. Stephanie Wettstein hopes, like many, that someone will take over the tradition.

The Baileys have enlisted a cadre of elves to assist them. Dressed in festive garb of Mrs. Claus’s handiwork, they direct traffic, move the line, help children into the sleigh and assist parents. A rumor that one of the elves may be interested in hosting the sleigh in future years could not be confirmed. The elves will receive outstanding service awards this evening, after the last child departs. The highest of elvin honors will be bestowed on David Moore, a fellow class of 1954 graduate of Mr. Bailey’s who has 20 years of service under his cap.

You can visit Grant Road Santa for the last time this afternoon between 2 and 4. Bring your camera and follow the signs off Route 152 on the way out of Newmarket.

All Published


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