Crystal Schick/Yukon News file Wayne Henderson, affectionately dubbed Garbage Truck Santa, hops into his truck at Shipyards Park in Whitehorse on Dec. 20, 2018. Henderson is raising money to get his garbage truck a new transmission.

Santa needs a new transmission

Garbage Truck Santa hopes to have his truck fixed up in time for the Christmas season

Santa’s sleigh – make that his garbage truck – needs a new transmission if he’s to get on the road come December.

Wayne Henderson is perhaps best known in Whitehorse as Garbage Truck Santa to many who anxiously await seeing Santa on the road, his truck lit up with Christmas lights, for a week in December.

It’s a tradition that’s been built over close to three decades beginning when Henderson drove a City of Whitehorse garbage truck and decided to dress up as Santa to surprise a child who lived at one of the houses on his route.

Over the years, lights and decorations were added and Santa began making the rounds at schools, daycares and continuing care facilities with the tradition moving from a City of Whitehorse initiative to one now sponsored by a long list of supporters and businesses.

“I love doing it,” Henderson said in an Oct. 3 interview.

Among those supporters is Takhini Trailer Court, which has provided its garbage truck for Santa to make his rounds.

Over the years repairs to the vehicle have been ongoing and this summer when the transmission failed, the trailer court manager decided it was time to retire the truck.

With that they called Henderson to see if he wanted it, letting him know he could have it, but it would need a new transmission.

Repairs aside, having a truck he owns would mean good things for Santa, Henderson said.

As he explained, each year he found himself wondering if the trailer court would again be able to lend him the vehicle, knowing it was being used regularly for garbage collection. He’s grateful the trailer court has always come through.

Then, there was the decorating at Whitehorse Motors, home-base for Santa’s garbage truck during that week in December.

“I would scramble to get the lights on,” Henderson said.

By owning the truck, Santa and the elves who volunteer their time to make it happen (including his son and daughter-in-law) may be able to attach Christmas lights on the truck permanently.

That won’t happen in time for this Christmas season, but Henderson said it’s definitely a possibility for 2020.

There’s potential then for future appearances by Garbage Truck Santa in parades and other community events and that’s something Henderson would enjoy.

“What gets me is the kids,” he said, highlighting the children’s excitement when his brightly lit garbage truck shows up at a school or daycare.

Garbage Truck Santa has been around long enough that the process – not unlike the garbage truck – is a well-oiled machine with teachers quick to help Santa out and pass out candy canes to excited youngsters.

Without a new transmission though, the garbage truck is off the road and will remain at Mercer Contracting’s yard where it’s been stationed since Henderson came into possession of it.

The community has largely come on board to help Henderson get a new transmission – with Inland Kenworth giving him a break on the price of the transmission repair – but the 12 to 16 hours of work and transmission is still expected to come in at about $11,000.

That’s why Henderson’s daughter-in-law Jordan Kasprzak started a Gofundme campaign at https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-garbage-truck-santa. A total of $2,555 had been raised as of the morning of Oct. 7 towards the $10,000 goal. Henderson put in $500.

As Kaprzak explained in an Oct. 2 interview, Henderson’s tradition is important to Whitehorse residents and one many seem to want to continue into the future.

Henderson said he’s been pleased to hear from a number of supporters who want to help out (outside of the gofundme effort) and he’s hopeful the money will come through this month.

That will provide the four to five days necessary to get the transmission to Whitehorse once it’s ordered and then time to have the work done.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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