ANNAPOLIS – After a several week delay over security concerns, a longtime Santa’s quest for lawmakers to sign holiday greetings for troops overseas was granted Wednesday.
George Jackson, of American Corner, unfurled his first scroll of the year in the Miller Senate Office Building’s rotunda, where Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich, Senate President Mike Miller, D-Calvert, and House Speaker Michael Busch, D-Anne Arundel, were among the first to sign.
Confusion over Jackson’s intent had prevented him from bringing the scroll to the State House earlier, Jackson said, until two legislators, Sen. Richard Colburn, R-Dorchester, and Delegate Kenneth Schisler, R-Talbot, intervened on his behalf.
It was just a matter of getting the proper permission, Colburn said. “The main thing George needed was a letter,” he said. “I received a letter on Friday, and we got him in the Senate office building on Wednesday.”
It was amazing how quickly legislators were able to turn things around, Jackson said.
“Once they found out what it was, it was `Come on over, George,'” he said.
Since 1995, Jackson’s scrolls – each several hundred feet long – have carried holiday wishes, letters, hand-drawn pictures and photographs to American troops, said Jackson, who also plays Santa for the Maryland National Guard and Maryland State Police.
“(Jackson) is one of the great characters of Maryland,” Ehrlich said after signing the scroll.
Miller also brought Jackson a resolution from the General Assembly praising his “tireless efforts to make our appreciation known to our courageous and dedicated troops overseas.”
Gathering signatures is a yearlong process, Jackson said, and this November he hopes to send more than two miles of paper to Dover Air Force Base, where the scrolls will be carried overseas by volunteer pilots.
But there’s still room for more, Jackson said.
“What I do just touches the surface,” he said, “They could send 100 scrolls over and not get it all.”