Krampus spreads early holiday cheer on Square

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Some early Christmas merrymaking unfolded on the Square Thursday when Krampus returned to Denton for the second year to pass out presents to surprised passers-by.

Unlike the fatherly St. Nicholas who hands out gifts to good children, Krampus — a monster from 17th-century Germanic folklore — was believed to descend on naughty ones, beating them and stuffing some into a sack to be eaten later.

In Austria and other parts of Europe, Krampustag is celebrated on Dec. 5, the day before St. Nicholas Day. In Denton, Dallas Clifton, dressed as Krampus, and other volunteers came out in the cold just before 1 p.m. with about 700 presents to hand out Thursday afternoon.

Alex and Madison Dunigan and Cordell Culpepper fetched wrapped presents from a pickup and two cars, skateboarding around the Square with sacks of gifts. They and other volunteers presented the presents to people walking, and driving, along the Square.

Some residents remembered Krampus from last year, and boldly approached the 8-foot-high monster for holiday greetings or to have their picture taken with him. Others were surprised, and questioned Krampus helpers about the source of generosity.

Resident Cera Phillips, who helped last year, too, said the gifts — a range of toys and household goods — come from individual donations.

Clifton was on the Square three years ago, randomly passing out presents in early December, when his cousin tipped him to the story of Krampus as a good excuse to spread early Christmas cheer, he said.

The next year, Clifton fashioned a costume from a gorilla suit, a baseball catcher’s gear, glue and foam.

“It’s supposed to be made of yak’s hair, but that’s more difficult to get than a monkey suit,” Clifton said.

He stomped around the Square Thursday, slowing traffic and eliciting honks from passing cars, as people smiled and took pictures.

Chris Dunigan and his wife came to help out for the first time this year, dressed as Father and Mother Christmas. The couple recently relocated to Denton from Houston.

“We thought it would be a cool tradition,” Dunigan said.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.

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