George Pancio

“Macy’s Parade Santa”
Olean, New York
1934 – Current

International Santa Claus Hall of Fame – December 2020

George Panico

George Pancio was born in Olean, New York in a family of five brothers and five sisters from parents of Austrian descent.

After graduating from Olean High in 1952, he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Education and Master’s Degree in School Administration from the State University of New York at Brockport.

He served as principal in several Olean Schools, and later was named assistant superintendent of schools.

Those accomplishments are amazing in themselves, but George’s true identity is Santa Claus.

He began performing as Santa in the late 1950s and was a protégé of Charles W. Howard in the 1960s. He assumed the role as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Santa in 1966.

For a decade, George represented Macy’s as their official spokes-Santa. He also appeared on numerous television programs such as Good Morning America, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and Gene Rayburn’s “Hell of a Town.”

When he was not representing Macy’s, he would be the Santa for Olean’s Santa Claus Lane and numerous other events. For decades Pancio spent 50 nights on his Main St. roof with a sleigh and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer each winter to the joy of families of the community.

In 2016, as Santa Claus, he was photographed with then President-Elect Donald Trump.