AUSTIN (KXAN) — Drivers in central Austin spotted someone Wednesday afternoon spreading holiday cheer in an unexpected way.
Andrew Choat, one of KXAN’s photojournalists, recorded video of a man wearing a Santa suit and riding his mule down the hill on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. near the intersection with North Lamar Blvd. The short clip took off Wednesday with many viewers who saw it on the KXAN News Facebook page, and it soon became the most popular video posted there.
The mule-riding Santa reached out Thursday to share his name: Samuel Grey Horse. He’s a native Austinite who’s made it a regular hobby around the holidays to trot around town while decking out his mule in a Santa hat and dressing himself in a white beard and red suit.
“It touched my heart,” Grey Horse said about people’s reaction to the video. “I’ve been doing this for years, and nobody knows me.”
He said he only recently returned home to Austin after touring with singer Charley Crockett and the Greyhounds band, so he went out Wednesday for the first time this year dressed as Santa Claus. He started doing this about 10 years ago, though, after getting a request to wear the red suit from another performer.
“The energy that brings and the happiness that brings to people is magical,” he said.
The Arctic front that plunged the temperatures in Austin Thursday are keeping him off the mule until Saturday at the earliest, so people could expect to see him again riding around the city. He also appears from time to time in different spots wearing an Easter bunny costume or sitting outside various music venues on horseback.
“I have no words to describe that energy I feel when I can do something like that,” Grey Horse said. “If it makes me happy, then that’s all that matters. I just keep it simple in these days and times.”