Jimmy L Petty

Profile Updated: June 22, 2021
Jimmy L Petty
Jimmy L Petty


Jimmy L Petty


Jimmy L Petty


Yes! Attending Reunion
Residing In: Wichita, KS USA
Spouse/Partner: Vicky
Occupations: Jack of all trades, Mainly in Graphic Arts
Children and grandchildren: 2 daughters Sarah-1988 Ashley 1991
2 Grandsons Aidan-2007 Jack 2012
Military Service: Marines

Jim Petty is the most well-known Santa in the Wichita area, where he grew up.

School Story:

Never got a college degree but I finished every class I signed up for. Attended LA Community College, Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Cal and Pepperdine. Also took correspondence classes from the Marine Corps Institute and the Air Force Academy. After I returned to Wichita I attended classes at the old VoTech which Is now part of the WSU system. If I submitted all of that I’d probably have mire then enough for an AA degree but I’m glad I never did because my youngest daughter got a great scholarship because of me not having a degree. I was the first on both sides of my family to attend College. Besides all of that my wife with her 4 degrees including her Masters and my daughter with her 2 degrees including her masters, we’ve got it covered!!!!

What elementary school did you attend?


What Junior High did you attend?


Where have you lived since leaving high school?

Served overseas in Japan, Philippines, Okinawa, Australia, South Korea & Guam.
Lived in Arizona, California, Missouri, Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and now back home in Wonderful Wichita.

Who were your favorite teachers?

Julius McEwen

What do you like to do in your spare time?

What spare time? I’ve tried to retire a couple of times and it drove me nuts. I had to go to work to keep my sanity. I now have the perfect situation in that I’m retired but on call for Mel Hambelton Ford. I drive out of town several times a week delivering cars or trucks or hauling something for the dealership. Have the freedom to turndown any runs I don’t want to do. In the 2 years I’ve been working with them I’ve been in 14 states for them. I love to drive on the road so it’s perfect. My family is in our 68th year of racing cars and I do a lot of road trips for that. Just hauled a race car to Florida last week. My oldest Grandson loves to go with me. He has now been in 47 states with me as well as several Canadian provinces. I’ve been in every state except Maine.

What did you want to do or think you were going to do when you finished high school?

Thought I would be working with electronics but that was before I dicovered how much I loved Photography.

What did you do right after high school?

Continued working on Air Conditioners for my Dad.

What would we be surprised to know about you?

I’m starting my 38th year as Santa Claus. I became a Santa in 1985. I was at the Wichita Soap Box Derby Christmas Party and the person that was supposed to be Santa didn’t show up. The suit was there and the director asked me to fill in. I declined because I was only Jim Petty, not Santa. I’m sure glad he talked me into it. I fell in love with it. My favorite place in Wichita to get into the Christmas spirit is Bradley Fair Tree Lighting Ceremony. I appreciate all of my fellow Santa’s and have organized a conference for them to come together and share ideas.

I have many favorite memories as Santa. Probably my favorite was a Norman Rockwell-like night at Lincoln Heights. I was Santa and there were Troll Tours originating there for Christmas lights in College Hill. (There was a) light dusting of snow and many wonderful, well-behaved kids. So hard to describe how magical it was.” I enjoy being Santa because of the, “…Kids, kids and kids. Most are well-behaved and they will tell Santa things that they wouldn’t tell their parents.

Famous or interesting people you've met?

Bob Dole, most all of the top race car drivers including every living Daytona 500 winner and most of the living Indy 500 winners. Most interesting person was Buz McKim the NASCAR historian.

What did you always want to do that you haven't done yet?

Not much. I’ve lived an interesting and fulfilled life.

Biggest thing you would do differently if you went back to your time at WHSW?

Better not say. I’m not sure if the statute of limitations has run out.

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Dec 09, 2023 at 3:33 AM
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