Neighbor takes Santa role very seriously

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Ridgefield — For 40 years, children of the Rinta family have been visited by Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.

The tradition began in 1971 when Jim Rinta talked his new neighbor into playing the part for his niece and nephew at the family Christmas gathering. Since then, when the extended family gets together at the family farm to celebrate, Santa shows up right on cue with a bag full of gifts for the children.

Stan Yinger, still in high school when he first donned the Santa suit, has faithfully played the part ever since for the four Rinta siblings — Paula, Maila, Pam and Jim — and their families.

During the traditional Christmas carol singing, Yinger waits in the mudroom where the presents have been left for him in a bag. When he hears the family sing “Jingle Bells,” he makes his appearance.