12/23/2012 08:21 am ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Chris Spears, Longtime Chicago Santa, Welcomes Diversity

For the past seven years, Chris Spears has sported an authentic long, white beard and has listened to children's Christmas wishes as they pose for photos on his lap while playing Santa Claus at 900 N. Michigan Ave.

"I'm a tradition for a lot of families, which I think is kind of cool," he said.

Spears, as a young wounded soldier in Vietnam, was told he had six months to live and would be dependent on a leg brace. Determined to defy this sentence, the non-religious Spears said he spoke to God and promised he would do something nice for the kids.

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