CODY, Wyo. - Thousands of people celebrated the holiday season at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody Saturday. Every year, the Center of the West entertains families from around Northwest Wyoming with a holiday open house. Santa is there, of course, and children are very excited to get a chance to see him.
But, this year’s open house featured a Santa’s helper in a sleigh, with very tiny reindeer. And, the sleigh seemed to glide, as if on air. The visitors were well impressed.
One woman said, “Excellent job. Well played! And look at his light. It glows. Did you come up with this idea?”
The Santa’s helper, Levi Haugen replied, “Another security guard and myself came up with the idea.”
Levi has been protecting the treasures of the five museums of the Center of the West for 16 years. He normally cruises the center in his wheelchair, necessary because he was born with cerebral palsy, which affects his motor skills. He takes his responsibilities seriously.
Haugen explained, “We go around and make sure people are following the rules and not running and touching the exhibit areas.”
A co-worker felt Haugen had something special to offer open house visitors this year: a mobile sleigh.
Levi said the man, “Showed me a picture of reindeer and told me to pick which one I’d like and told me to make it happen!”
Security Officer Stephen Garcia said, “There’s a lot of people who had ideas, helped a little on it whether it be lending me space to do it, or cutting some material for me. Donating material to me. Everybody loves Levi here.”
Among the people who cheered him on were the entire restaurant staff. They were as excited as Levi about creating his holiday chariot
Kitchen Supervisor Marion Reachard said, “Because they love Levi so much. “
She said the whole town loves him.
If they loved Levi the security guard before, they probably loved Levi, Santa’s Helper, even more.
Haugen commented, “They have been stopping me and taking pictures.”
He proved sharing holiday cheer has no limits.