Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Santa disguised as bus driver

Echuca bus driver Peter Barden is spreading Christmas cheer - on the bus.

IVY WISE December 14, 2013 4:04am

Peter Barden is a welcome and festive sight to bus users.

Santa Claus is coming to town — in a bus.

Peter Barden has been driving his bus dressed as Santa since Sunday to spread Christmas cheer to the people of Echuca-Moama.

The bus driver has been dressing as Santa over the festive season since he started with Echuca-Moama Bus Transit three years ago.

‘‘I love the reaction I get from people,’’ he said.

‘‘If I can make a person smile, I can make a person happy. Life’s too short to be sad.’’

Peter can be seen driving the south, east, west and Moama bus routes on Mondays to Fridays.

Peter and his wife Karen moved from Melbourne to Echuca for a treechange five years ago.

The couple also decorate its Howell Drive home in lights every year, while Peter dresses as Santa and hands out lollypops to the kids.

‘‘Christmas time used to be about socialising with your neighbours and kids outside riding their bikes. Nowadays, a lot of people are closed up indoors,’’ he said.

‘‘I want to keep the Christmas spirit alive.’’

It usually takes the couple about two days to put up the 60,000 to 70,000 lights at their house, but it took a little longer than usual after Peter fell off the roof and injured his back two Saturdays ago.

‘‘If I was going to fall off or injure myself, it was going to happen putting up the lights. That’s just what I’m like,’’ he said.

People can see Santa at the Barden’s home, at 5 Howell Drive (Westwood Park Estate), from Sunday until December 23.

This year, Santa will be joined by Mrs Claus and a little elf.

All they ask for is a gold coin donation, which goes to the Royal Children’s Hospital.

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