Bill and Jenny Reed continue to serve as Christmas royalty
Bill Reed has been playing the part of Paso Robles Downtown Main Street Association’s Snow King for nearly a decade. Until a few years ago, he was doing that with Millie Drum, who was the Snow Queen. When Drum stepped down, Jenny Reed, Bill’s wife, stepped up.
“It’s about the kids,” Reed said. “It’s so much fun.”
The Reeds remembered one particular set of kids: Faith and Luke from Paso Robles. Reed said he teased for the kids for not smiling when they posed for a photo with the Snow King and Queen.
“They brightened up and smiled,” Reed said. “About a half-hour later the mom came back crying and said she hadn’t seen her kids smile in 10 months since their father died.”
The interaction touched Reed so much that he arranged for Santa and Mrs. Claus to show up at the family’s home Christmas Eve with presents.
Jenny said that at the first sing-along that she did as the snow queen, she bent over to take a photo with a child and her long hair fell into the candle she or the child was holding.
“Her hair caught on fire,” Reed said. “Luckily, I was quick and put it out.”
“I figured if I can handle that, I can do anything,” Jenny added.
The Snow King and Queen have more appearances during the holiday season at events in Paso Robles than even Santa has.
The events the Downtown Main Street Association hosts in Paso Robles during the holiday season tell a story. The story started in November with Elegant Evening in downtown.
“We start out with the merchants showing that they have everything ready to show for Christmas,” Paso Robles Main Street Executive Director Norma More said. “It’s getting people into the spirit of Christmas.”
The day after Thanksgiving, the Christmas festivities continued with the 33rd annual Tree Lighting ceremony. Mrs. Claus arrived to turn on the lights in the park to beacon Santa Claus to Paso Robles. The park was filled with people waiting in the near-dark for the lights to be flipped on.
“This is when Mrs. Claus comes to town. She comes to town to see if [Paso Robles] is ready for Santa,” Moye said. “[There is] hot chocolate for her and everybody’s singing.”
The following week, Saturday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m., Santa arrives for the 58th annual Christmas Light Parade.
“So Mrs. Claus says, ‘Wow, this town is ready for Santa to come.’ So Santa comes into town on his sleigh,” Moye said.
The first time people will see Santa in Paso Robles is when he rides on his sleigh during the parade.
“Really, we’re there to support Santa,” Jenny said.
A week after the parade is the 33rd annual Vine Street Victorian Showcase on Saturday, Dec. 14 from 6 to 9 p.m. between 8th and 21st streets on Vine Street.
The final holiday event the Reeds will do as the king and queen is the 29th annual Victorian Teddy Bear Tea on Saturday, Dec. 21 from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Park Ballroom.
Reed got involved with Main Street about 12 years ago. He owns and operates Central Coast Marketing and volunteered to do the nonprofit’s website and take some photos.
“Someone asked me to help. I realized they needed help and I stepped in,” Reed said.
He continues to manage the website and help the organization out in other ways — including being the Snow King year after year.
“Basically, Millie Drum and a couple of ladies [from the Main Street Association] got together and asked me,” Reed said. “They said, ‘Just do it this year.’ Every year Norma Moye says, ‘You’re doing it, right?’”
The Reeds moved to Paso Robles from San Clemente in 2003. They followed Reed’s parents, Jim and Cindy Marshall, to the area. They had been having Thanksgiving at the Marshalls’ home at Lake Nacimiento for many years.
In 2003, the plan was for the Reeds — Reed, Jenny and their two young daughter — to live in Paso Robles for a year and then they’d move to Ireland to do mission work.
“We fell in love with the community and never left,” Jenny said. “It’s a great place to raise kids.”
They have four children — Lindsay, 25, Lauren, 22, Wil, 16 and Leanna, 14, and one grandchild who is 7 months old. All four of their children went to school at Georgia Brown Elementary School and are bilingual.
Be sure to stop and say “hi” to the Reeds at any of the holiday events in Paso Robles.