Santa Claus Helps Restore Holiday Tradition For Lilac Fire Victims - NBC Southern California

Santa Claus Helps Restore Holiday Tradition For Lilac Fire Victims

Bill Porter, a Bonsall resident, helped give Erin English and her family just what they needed to keep their decades-old tradition alive.

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    Bonsall Man Restores Lilac Fire Victim's Family Tradition

    NBC 7's Omari Fleming reports on Bill Porter, the man who helped a Bonsall family keep a decades-old tradition alive on Christmas Eve 2017.

    (Published Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017)

    This Christmas, Santa Claus paid a special visit to a Bonsall family who lost nearly everything in the devastating Lilac Fire, including a special keepsake used each Christmas for decades. 

    Erin English and her family have had a holiday tradition going for more than 60 years. Every year, a family member wears the same Santa suit and gives gifts to the children. 

    But this year, the Lilac Fire burned the English's house to the ground. Nearly three weeks ago, English walked us through the rubble of her Bonsall home, one of more than 100 destroyed by the Lilac Fire.

    “It was Heaven. Our house was Heaven," said English.

    Slices of the home were saved, but many important pieces of memorabilia and family heirlooms, including the Santa suit, were destroyed. 

    Bill Porter, a Bonsall resident, heard about the family's heartache and decided to suit up as Jolly Old St. Nicholas and help English and her family keep their decades-old tradition alive. 

    “Family and tradition are very important,” said Porter.

    Porter first met English years ago, he said, when he became the principal of a local school. 

    “Because she had done so much for me as a new principal, I think it made me as successful as I am as a principal," Porter said. "Because of her advice and leadership, I knew I had to do something." 

    That something turned into Porter helping the English’s keep their tradition alive -- maybe even sparking Porter to start his own tradition. 

    “I asked her if I could donate the suit to her for her family tradition to continue, she said no," Porter said. "(She said) You need to start this tradition in your own family with your own grandkids." 

    Because the English's have lost their home, they are renting a home for the holidays. 

    Despite their loss, they’ve been trying to help others, re-donating clothes and raising money for families impacted by the Lilac Fire.

    If you'd like to help the fundraiser efforts, click here.