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Mrs. Claus to be grand marshal of Lilburn Christmas Parade

Anita Newsome enjoys playing Mrs. Claus at dozens of December events. On Saturday, she will be honored as the grand marshal in Lilburn’s Christmas parade. (Staff photo: Camie Young)

Anita Newsome enjoys playing Mrs. Claus at dozens of December events. On Saturday, she will be honored as the grand marshal in Lilburn’s Christmas parade. (Staff photo: Camie Young)

Anita Newsome’s first costume was a pumpkin.

Hoping to make her only daughter’s final year in high school extra special, Newsome plopped her pumpkin on top of the girl’s car, greeting her after school with a song on her Halloween birthday.

Pretty soon, the girl’s friends were calling to “rent” her out, and word spread throughout town.

From the grim reaper delivering some black roses to congratulate a man on his divorce to Uncle Sam celebrating the Fourth of July, Newsome spread laughter and good cheer throughout the community.

Then, the December baby discovered her perfect role: Mrs Claus.

For a woman who drinks hot cocoa, not hot coffee, even her grandkids can’t help but believe.

After decades of putting on a holly berry crime at Christmas time, Newsome still participates in dozens of events each December in Alabama, where she partners with her cousin’s husband as Old St. Nick

But after moving to Lilburn to be closer to her grandkids, she was excited to carry on the tradition in her new hometown.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, Mrs. Claus will be the grand marshal in the Lilburn Christmas Parade, delighting the children.

“It’s all about touching someone’s heart,” said Newsome, a retired real estate agent and property manager who also wrote a Christmas play that was put on in a North Carolina town for years after she moved away.

“I think we are giving hope and love and teaching compassion,” Newsome said of the endeavor that has her celebrating her gray hairs.

Whether reading at a school or visiting a nursing home, Mrs. Claus always brings smiles. She tells the kids to be sure to leave carrots and apples for Santa’s reindeer and reminds them to brush their teeth.

But most of all, Mrs. Claus listens and loves.

“With all that is happening now in the world, there is so much negativity, but no matter where I am and what I’m doing , I always can get a smile out of everyone. … It just brings out the magic,” she said. “I feel as if it’s a calling for me.”

While the littlest child can cower at Santa’s big beard, Newsome finds that they run straight to Mrs. Claus, finding comfort in her maternal touch.

Some kids bring a list of toys they want for Christmas, while one asked for daddy to come home from war and another just wanted a friend’s dad to be healed.

The most touching tribute came one day when Newsome fulfilled a girl’s dying wish to see a real clown. That trip to the hospital, where the happy girl died rocking in her arms with a big smile on her face, showed Newsome that her costumes are a lot more than a hobby.

“I am the one that receives the blessings, by just touching so many lives,” Newsome said. “It’s been a journey that I’m so pround I’ve been able to carry through.”