HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - From free sleigh rides to passing out presents, James Presbitero’s goal is to create lasting memories for the people of Maui during the holidays.
"Me and my dad started this,” he said. “We took one of our landscaping trailers, put two ply boards together and painted it red. Put ‘Mele Kalikimaka’ on there and put two string lights and went up and down the street,” he said.
Over the decades ‘Da Maui Sleigh’ has become a fixture on the island.
What started as a father-son project 22 years ago has now turned into a favorite family holiday tradition.
"Some people have been with this sleigh ever since they were one years old. Now they're 10 and for some, it's the highlight for their parties,” said Presbitero.
Each yearm it expanded street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood.
Now it’s the entire island.
“After a long day from eight in the morning to 10 o’clock at night and I’m going home all tired, I look on my Facebook feed or I look at my social media or my emails or my phone and see everybody posting all this stuff and I’m like wow OK, that’s what I want, I want to make memories," Presbitero said.
The kids have an opportunity to ask Santa what they want for Christmas and receive presents.
“The kids they just hug you and they’re just all over you and I’m like, ‘Woah! That’s love.’ And that’s what we’re trying to create, an organic love."
Presbitero takes off work from Dec. 1 to Dec. 25th and travels the streets of Maui offering free sleigh rides.
“I get to create memories for these families," he said. “When I roll up and you see kids just jumping up and down like, ‘Wow! Is that really Santa?’”
Presbitero often drives and Santa, Mrs. Clause and the elves are all volunteers.
He says it was his father’s only wish when he passed away in 2011.
“On his dying bed he said, ‘Make sure you continue this. This is one of the things you better continue, and you make sure you offer this for everyone with no cost.’"