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Santa Barbara’s Accidental Santa retires his phone line

A Santa Barbara businessman is calling it quits on his “Accidental Santa” call center.

It all started in 2006, when John Dickson set up a phone line for his tourism business. The number is 1-800-SANTA-BARBARA.

It turns out, that number is just one digit off of 1-800-SANTA-CLAUS.

That year, Dickson’s phone rang, and a voice on the other end of the line was asking for Saint Nick.

“I got a call from a little boy who wanted a blue truck, a pony and a spider. I quickly figured out he misdialed,”

Dickson’s story made headlines around the world and for the next ten years, Dickson and an army of volunteers set up a call center answering calls from young children.

“I’ve probably answered about 10,000 calls myself personally,” Dickson said. “We can’t answer them all. Last year, we got almost a million calls trying to reach us.”

Through “Accidental Santa,” Dickson met a woman who recognized him from television.

They got married and had a son two years ago.

Dickson said his son will soon know who Santa Claus is, and he can’t pretend to be Santa Claus around his son at Christmastime.

But, Dickson said he is grateful for that one digit that changed his life forever and brought him a family.

The “Accidental Santa” took his last call on Christmas Eve at 8 p.m.

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