Play it again, Santa!

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, December 21, 2011

BEN HILLYER | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT Bob Sizemore, a musician and professor of biology, will play the part of Santa for the Santa Claus Committee this year.

NATCHEZ — When he is not supervising elves in the workshop, this Santa is known to pluck an upright bass with one hand and fiddle with test tubes in the other.

Bob Sizemore will play the part of Santa for the Santa Claus Committee this year. But — in the off season — this Santa is a musician and professor of biology at Alcorn State University.

“It is a pleasure and an honor to serve as the 83rd Santa,” Sizemore said.

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The Santa Claus Committee, formed in 1928, not only selects Santa, but also works to ensure all Natchez children have a merry Christmas.

“This is a wonderful organization,” Sizemore said. “It was formed on the basis that all children should have a Merry Christmas, and children in need should receive presents.”

Sizemore said he is also proud that the organization will donate more than $12,000 to local charities this year.

Sizemore’s father-in-law Don Killelea also served as Santa in 1970. He got Sizemore involved with the Santa Claus committee 15 years ago after he and his wife Kathy moved to Natchez from New Orleans.

“My family is very, very excited,” Sizemore said. “Especially because it’s part of my wife’s family tradition.

Sizemore is a Kentucky native. Prior to working at Alcorn, Sizemore was an AIDS researcher, and with his team developed an immunotherapeutic for the treatment of AIDS. He received two patents and published several papers.

Sizemore said that as far as he knows, he is the first “scientist Santa.”

When Sizemore is not in the classroom, he enjoys playing upright bass. He is a member of the musicians union, and also plays backup piano. He is familiar with the stage as well, having performed in Natchez Little Theatre productions. He wrote the music for “12th Night” and “Othello” at NLT.

“But my voice doesn’t really carry on stage,” Sizemore said.

Because of this, Sizemore said he has been working on his ho-ho-hos.

“I’m trying, but it sounds a little creepy,” Sizemore joked.

What matters most, he said, is making a difference for children this Christmas.

“Christmas is a magical time for children,” Sizemore said. “I hope to provide a little of that magic. I can’t wait to see the looks on their faces.”

Santa’s Christmas Eve duties include leading the parade and of course throwing candy to children, Sizemore said. He will hand out gifts at the Natchez Children’s Home, on behalf of the Children’s Christmas Tree Fund, and then party the night away at the Natchez Convention Center to the sounds of Cozy Corley and the Blue Gardenia Band.

Sizemore said Christmas is fun for adults but deeply meaningful for children.

“When you think back to your fondest memories of Christmas, probably most of them are from when you were a child,” Sizemore said. “I still remember waking up on Christmas Day, finding presents under the tree, and wondering why my parents were so tired.”

He said the numerous nonprofits and organizations who put forth effort to help local children reflects the kindness and generosity of Natchezians.

“It’s a friendly town,” Sizemore said. “I’m pleased to say that I am a Natchezian too.”

Sizemore has two children, his son Carlen, 19, and daughter Kate, 24, who lives in Austin, Texas.