Santa and Mrs. Claus took time out from their busy schedule Dec. 24 to visit Winter Wonderland in East Peoria.
Santa, also known as Geary Stanley, and his bride, Denise Feller, tied the knot on Christmas Eve during a small ceremony with some friends and family.
Stanley, 54, of Creve Coeur is a maintenance man at East Peoria High School. Feller, 48, of Peoria works at WMBD-TV as a receptionist.
Almost like the Dan Fogelberg song that is played at Christmas, Feller and Stanley, who already knew each other, reconnected five years ago when they bumped into each other at a gas station. But in this story, they did not part ways.
Feller said they wanted their wedding to be extra special.
“Geary has been playing Santa for about 10 years now for different events. His favorites are the Creve Coeur Santa Walk and playing Santa for the special needs kids at the high school. When we got together, I decided to join him,” Feller said.
The couple volunteers their time posing as Santa and Mrs. Claus.
“We use our own money to buy toys for kids that we do personal appearances for. We do as many as we have time for. Geary makes a wonderful Santa. The kids just love him,” Feller said.
Stanley started doing the Santa bit when one of the fellow Boy Scout leaders, George Pilkington, told him that they needed Santas for the Creve Coeur Santa walk. After that he was hooked. He purchased his own suit and Feller, likewise, owns hers.
“Because this is something that we both love to do, we decided that we would work our wedding into this theme. After a lot of discussion and working with (city commissioner) Tim Jeffers, we decided on the sleigh scene there at the Winter Wonderland, as Mr. and Mrs. Claus,” Feller said.
Stanley wore his Santa outfit and Feller wore a red dress with boots and a Santa Robe. She carried poinsettias as her flower.
Tom Meadows Sr. of Peoria performed the ceremony, which lasted about 10 minutes due to the cold weather.
After the ceremony, the group headed to Ming's in East Peoria for their reception.
“We will be out of our Santa garb by then, because Geary and I don't want to confuse any kids by having Santa at Ming's when he should be out delivering presents,” Feller said.
The couple headed north (maybe to the North Pole) for their honeymoon over New Year's weekend.
“We are both Boy Scout leaders and have camped out in the cold before. We'll be spending our time out in the great outdoors, one of our other loves,” Feller said.