HOUSTON, Texas -- Richard Reyes first took on the role of Pancho Claus in 1981, and now he and the character are one and the same.
The Houston, Texas man first played the Hispanic version of Santa Claus in a play and wanted to give the role personality. He performed a poem and replaced the iconic red suit and reindeer with a zoot suit and lowrider cars.
Reyes continued to play Pancho Claus year after year and would visit a few dozen families every holiday season to deliver gifts and cheer. But he has become a Houston icon with the role for nearly four decades.
He now hands out more than 10,000 gifts to kids in need each year. He also gives back year-round in the community.
Reyes has battled his own obstacles in finding the Christmas spirit. He has suffered three heart attacks and lost a home to flooding. But he always finds the joy in life and will do whatever it takes to help someone else.