By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Retiring as Mrs. Claus
Jessie Brown as Mrs. Claus

After 15 years of bringing joy to children’s faces as Santa Claus’s helpmate in Rockdale County, Jessie Brown is hanging up her bonnet.

Brown will be participating in her last Hometown Holidays parade and tree lighting today as Mrs. Claus.

She stumbled into the role after talking with fellow Conyers Kiwanis member and then-Santa Claus Bernie Bourdon. For her first outing, she had to borrow a costume, but as more appearance requests came in, the Kiwanis club stepped up and sponsored a custom-made dress, bonnet and wig.

"It’s been very enlightening. I look forward to it every year. But I feel it's time to step down," she said. The long-time Conyers resident wants to devote more time to her volunteer passions, such as the Master Gardeners and Clothes Closet at Ebenezer UMC, and her husband, LT Brown.

She’s outlasted at least seven other Santas during her time as Mrs. Kringle and could tell you any number of stories. She recalled one year when she and Santa rode in the parade in an antique truck owned by Santa that almost didn’t make it up the hill on Pine Log Road and had to be pushed by bystanders. Another year, the Santa needed to know how to dance for the event’s festivities but didn’t know how, so she enrolled him in dance lessons at the Dominy School.

She’s also become a pro at easing children’s fears as they first meet Santa and in responding to unusual questions and challenges. "You have to think real fast," she said. One child, upon seeing her slender figure, exclaimed "You’re not fat!" She said she had been on a diet. Another child said he could see her real hair underneath her wig. "I’m having a bad hair day, so I had to use a wig," she replied.

She said she didn’t know if anyone was going to step into the role.

You can see Brown in the Breakfast with Santa United Way Fundraiser today at 8 a.m. at First Conyers United Methodist, the Hometown Holidays Parade starting at 4:30 p.m., and the tree lighting ceremony at the County Courthouse, starting at 6 p.m. She’ll also be at the Dec. 17 fundraiser for Rockdale Emergency Relief at the Corner Market, 2-4 p.m.