Merry Christmas

SANTA was braving the Australian summer heat in Cobargo this week, bringing a smile to passers-by and motorists alike.
Nanjing Night Net

Behind the red suit, jolly laugh and authentic beard was Dave Rugendyke.

Mr Rugendyke is well known for his Christmas lights display at his Cobargo home and loves nothing more than bringing joy to children.

He and his wife Barb are also foster carers who have taken in around 350 children over the past 20 or so years.

They currently have 12 children at home – although the number is a bit fuzzy like Mr Rugendyke’s chin.

“Barb keeps count – I’ve kind of lost track,” Mr Rugendyke said with a laugh that seemed forever ready to bubble to the surface.

“Whoever turns up gets fed.

“It has been our life always.

“Christmas is always big for us – lights, displays, anything like this I’ll be in,” he said as another passing motorist tooted their season’s greetings.

“It’s all about putting smiles on faces.”

Mr Rugendyke isn’t one to shy away from a good cause – he is also a member of the Cobargo Show Society, the local fire brigade and the Cancer Research Advocate Bikers (CRABS), which recently topped $100,000 in donations to Bega Valley Can Assist and the NSW Cancer Council.

On Tuesday he also took time away from his red velvet lounge – taking pride of place in the centre of Cobargo between Bangles Gallery Pottery and the pharmacy – to hand out treats to pupils arriving home from a school excursion.

Mr Rugendyke, not surprisingly, said he would be spending Christmas with his family.

“Family is the main thing.”

• Santa Claus, aka Dave Rugendyke of Cobargo, shares festive joy with local children (back, from left) Matilda Grebert, Jack Grebert, Remmy Carroll, Alexis Allen, Lucy Allen, Dominic Ngyuen, (front) Star Troy, Tinny Ngyuen, Clancy Grebert, Sarah Moulds, Kate Moulds, Colt Salway and Jack Salway.

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