The Legendary Dan Rowe

The treasured tradition of Legendary Santa began in 1936 at the Miller & Rhoads department store in downtown Richmond. After the closing of Miller & Rhoads in 1990, and following several short moves, Legendary Santa came to his new, permanent seasonal home at the Children’s Museum of Richmond in 2005. It is with great honor…

Published on December 16, 2020

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The treasured tradition of Legendary Santa began in 1936 at the Miller & Rhoads department store in downtown Richmond. After the closing of Miller & Rhoads in 1990, and following several short moves, Legendary Santa came to his new, permanent seasonal home at the Children’s Museum of Richmond in 2005. It is with great honor and gratitude that the Children’s Museum continues this magical holiday tradition enjoyed by generations. 

The Children’s Museum is deeply saddened by the passing of the beloved Legendary Santa, Dan Rowe, who greeted families from 1966 to 2016. We thank him for the genuine love and joy he shared with so many, for so long. Below, we’ve shared some tributes and articles about Dan, which we will continue to update. Thank you so much to everyone who has reached out with a story or memory so far.

From Visitors Near and Far

Amy Dean: “This is me at the age of 5 in 1982 and my daughter in 2012 when she was 5 with Mr. Rowe. I am so saddened; he was Santa to me.”
From Sheri Blanks McCafferty: “So sorry to hear of Dan’s passing. When I was a little girl I would tell him that I was going to marry him and be his Snow Queen, ha ha, and I eventually had the chance to work several seasons with him in the 80s and 90s.”
From Krystin Buchanan: “My first trip to Santa was in 1989, though my sister had been seeing him since 1980. We’ve continued that tradition every year since. Many of our Santa photos were with Santa Dan as he was truly the best. The picture on the left is my sisters and I on my very first Christmas. The one on the left is Christmas 2015 for my sons very first Christmas. We added a husband and my grandmother to that photo, as you are never to old to see Santa. It was so special to be able to see Dan as a child and have my child see him as well. He was such an amazing soul and will be greatly missed.”
“When I was working at a local medical office and my son was 6 months old, he came in as a patient. I told him about how I had visited him since 1967 and I now had a son and this sweet soul gave me his home telephone number so I could call him after he got his schedule so I could bring J to see the very same Santa I had seen.”

He was the best! The last time I sat on his lap I was 13. Then for my 21st birthday I went to see him. I only stood in the back of the room and watched while remembering. But that wonderful man, looked up smiled, waved at me and said, ‘Merry Christmas Linda!’ I was beyond shocked but thrilled at the same time. Thank you Santa.”

Linda motley
From Laura Tate: Picture of my daughter and granddaughter on Santa Dan’s lap. Both are wearing my coat.

From a Fellow Santa Land Team Member

Dan Rowe WAS Legendary Santa!  He was Santa from 1966-2016 and in the years that Legendary Santa traveled from Miller and Rhoads to Thalhimers, to the Richmond Convention Center to the Richmond Children’s Museum, he was the one that kept the tradition going.

Dan was my mentor and my friend.  He taught me the ropes as how to be Legendary and his insistence on excellence resulted in the Legendary Santa program being the best.  Dan had a great laugh and loved to see returning families who LOVED to see him as Santa.  During the time he was Legendary Santa, Dan saw over 600,000 children and families and the traditional pictures with him as Santa are on walls all over the world.

Dan was an avid church goer and loved being with his own family.  Here is Dan with Lou and Jeff and Dan’s daughter and her husband at his retirement luncheon.

It was a privilege to know and work with Dan and he will be greatly missed.

-Jeff Beatman

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch

Please click the Richmond Times-Dispatch article below to read more about Santa Dan’s story and legacy, written by his friend, Bill Lohmann.

Dan Rowe celebrated for ‘the genuine love and joy’ he delivered as Richmond’s ‘Legendary Santa’ for 50 years

2005, TIMES-DISPATCH

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