It may be a few days until Christmas, but one Santa is busy on his daily route. Steven Bailey has delivered the Times Argus newspaper for going on a decade. Day in, day out, five days a week the 56-year-old Williamstown native trudges through it all to deliver the latest news.
"It's got to be done," Bailey said. "People have to get the paper and I try my best to get there when I can."
The week leading up to Christmas he dusts off his Santa suit for the job, spreading good cheer to customers from the seat of state government to a loyal group of regulars.
"He's always happy, always cheerful, always has something good to say, stops by and chitchats every day at my coffee cart," said Suzan Mahoney, a newspaper customer.
Injuries to his knees have slowed him down and there are financial troubles, too. A fire last year forced Bailey and his wife out of their Barre apartment.
"It is quite a job some of the times on mornings like this," he said.
Bailey can't afford a car anymore and for the last five years has taken the bus to get back and forth between Barre with the papers.
"Some of the time you have to make sure you get up and get down there and catch that bus because if you don't, it messed the whole day up if I miss the bus," he said.
Bailey and his wife now split a two-hour route delivering about 50 papers, down from the 300 they used to deliver in their car.
Despite more than a 40 percent loss of print edition readers in recent years and the move to online platforms, Times Argus manager Rob Mitchell says the role of Bailey and the paper's 37 other carriers remains a core part of the operation.
"In all kinds of weather, before the sun is up, they're out on the roads delivering the papers. So, it's absolutely essential and it's been that way from before I was born, before my father was born," Mitchell said. "We just think that if people want it that way and we can deliver it that way, then we're going to keep doing that as long as we can."
"Well, a couple of times with the floods and when the hurricanes come. And a couple of times they did a re-enactment here at the capital and everyone at the capital wanted to see that paper," Bailey said. "There are a lot of people waiting for that paper, especially the local news. They want to see what's happened around the local areas."
Delivering the news like it has always been with holiday cheer.
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