|Mickey, Ruben, Minnie - R.&L Grierson photos|
He’s not a big man, but he has a huge heart.
After recently surviving a life-changing event Ruben, the proprietor of Ruben’s Restaurante on Isla Mujeres, has a new goal in life.
His mission is to give back to the community, and to make little kids shriek with laughter.
|Linda & Richard Grierson - T Vermu photo|
For the last few months Ruben has been working to organize a Night of the Kings party on January 6th for island children. It’s a very important event for Catholics in Mexico, celebrating when the three wise men purportedly arrived in Bethlehem with gifts for baby Jesus.
In the ensuing weeks a steady stream of ex-pats and locals arrived at the restaurant, gifts in hand, adding to the towering stack of toys.
Very quickly the brightly coloured stack of dolls, stuffed animals, board games, soccer balls, books and action figures spilled over onto the floor and had to be tucked away in a storage area to make way for yet more gifts. Eventually there were over 700 presents donated to the festivities.
|Some of the helpers - T Vermu photo|
And then there was food; complimentary lunches for everyone who attended the fiesta, put together by many helping hands that included Ruben’s staff and more local ex-pats. Enthusiastic volunteers controlled the traffic, kept the lines of excited youngsters moving along towards Santa, and photographed the crazy fun. So many helpers! Wow!
|Ruben's staff - R&L Grierson photo|
On the day of the fiesta, Mickey (Lawrie) and Minnie (me) arrived via decorated golf cart with our minders, Linda and Richard Grierson. The noise was deafening. There were kids everywhere, covering both sidewalks and spilling across the blocked off portion of Guerrero Avenue where the restaurant is located. Many couldn’t decide what to do first; get their gift from Santa, or have their photograph taken with Mickey and Minnie. Many small hands grabbed at our legs, or clutched our hands while having their photo taken.
|He's a bit afraid of the huge mice!|
We get a lot of pleasure out of these events, the only downside is our limited vision through the eye-holes means we can’t really see the kids, just feel them as they excitedly launch themselves at us. It’s pretty darn funny at times. I often wonder what would happen if I tripped in my foam, over-sized, high-heel-shaped Minnie shoes. Would I disappear in a four-foot-deep pile of small wriggling bodies?
|John Pasnau and young friend - Grierson photo|
On the other hand Santa (John Pasnau) patiently sat in the tropical sun wearing his very hot vintage Santa suit. He smiled and chatted with each child as they arrived in front of him. John is the quintessential Santa Claus, customized for the tropics with flip-flops on his feet instead of black boots. At the party the little girls were lined up on his right side, and the boys to his left. That way his helpers could pick gifts that were hopefully appropriate for the child. We only managed to stay at the party for forty-five minutes before our stiflingly hot costumes forced us to leave. We are in absolute awe of Santa – he was there when we arrived, and still there when we departed. Such perseverance, such stamina! Great job Santa!
|Mickey and Minnie, with our minder Linda G.|
Through it all I caught glimpses of Ruben looking stressed but happy at what he had created.
He was everywhere; checking on the supply of gifts, having his photo taken with the children, ensuring everyone received a present and a complimentary lunch.
Well done Ruben, the man with the huge heart.
Happy New Year / Próspero Año Nuevo
Lawrie & Lynda
|Lots of kids and lots of noise - R Grierson photo|
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