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Dick McKinley and Karl Beals

Class of 1981

Dick McKinley (top) and Karl Beals, (below) both class of 1981, spent time together as classmates at King’s in the late seventies and early eighties. They went 23-1 as members of the Knights basketball team in 7th and 8th grade; lapped up engaging Bible lessons together in Mr. McDonald’s Bible class; and to top it off, dressed up as a pair of Coneheads for Halloween one year.

They spent memorable, youthful moments together as students, but Dick and Karl lost contact after graduation. Twenty-six years later, the old friends reunited in the most spirited way: as holiday Santas.

“Three years ago my two sons and I did ‘No Shave November,’ and by December I had a grey beard,” Dick explained about his transformation into Santa. “Kids were starting to do double takes and point fingers as I walked by, so it seemed like a natural transition.”

Karl shares a similar story of falling into the seasonal trade. “I decided in January to grow a beard for one year. For Father’s Day my family gave me a Santa suit, and my wife took a picture of me with my two youngest sons,” he said. “She uploaded the photo to the Kenmore Neighbors Facebook page, and from there I was asked to be in the City of Bothell’s 4th of July parade, Bothell Christmas tree lighting and now I will be working at the downtown Seattle Macy’s store.”

Both Dick and Karl fell into playing Santas (a hobby they do between working in their respective careers), but they agree the best part has been reconnecting with their childhood friend. “I reconnected with Dick when I was doing research on being a real bearded Santa and came across his picture on a website of Seattle area Santas,” Karl said of first finding each other. “Though we went very different ways after leaving King’s, when we reconnected we found out that we had both spent the majority of our careers as assistant pastors serving with children and youth.” Karl served 25 years as a youth minister and Dick spent time as a children’s pastor at his local church.

In addition to ministry, the men have worked in trades and the service industry. “Since Karl contacted me our friendship has rekindled, and I look forward to really getting to know his family as our newfound friendship grows. Our paths went very different directions and in the end, we both ended up doing very similar things. It makes sense that we both have become Santas,” Dick shared. “Well, that and we are both a little on the chubby side and have big, white, real beards!”