Cowboy Santa visits students at Haviland Grade School on horseback

Hannah Brown
Kiowa County Signal
Mike Greenleaf of Medicine River Rodeo Company recently visited Haviland Grade School and played the role of Santa Claus.

It is a long-standing tradition that Santa Claus visits Haviland Schools before the students head home for Christmas Break. After many years of a local resident visiting as Santa, things were changes up this year when Mike Greenleaf, Greensburg resident and owner of Medicine River Rodeo Company, brought his horse to the school decked out in Santa attire along with chaps and a cowboy hat. 

“This year as we began to think of creative ways to have Santa come visit our students, the idea of Cowboy Santa came up,” said Mark Clodfelter, HGS Superintendent. “This seemed like a great way to embrace our small town culture and provide a new and exciting way for Santa to make an appearance.”

Mike and his horse traveled down Topeka St. towards waiting students in the school yard. Mike’s horse donned a collar with bells owned by student Cadie Follette’s great grandfather and are now owned by HGS 2nd grade teacher Kay Unruh. Unruh grew up in the same area as Todd Follette and acquired the collar through a benefit auction. Follette’s great grandfather used the bells to give sleigh rides in the winter cart rides in the summer with his team of horses. 

Greenleaf, who stands 6’5”, surprised some of the young students with how tall Santa was. Greenleaf knows some of the students at Haviland Grade School and made sure to ask them if they thought they would be on the naughty or nice list. Even though this was a new take on a tradition that HGS students look forward to each year, it was still an exciting time for all. 

“Santa was a big hit with our students!” said Mr. Clodfelter.