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Former Toymaker Becomes Christmas In the Park's "Chief Elf"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    When Denver Bradford retired, his son said it was only a matter of time before the former toymaker and maintenance worker would be back at work. What he didn't know was just what a perfect fit Denver's new job would be. (Published Tuesday, Dec 17, 2013)

    When Denver J. Bradford retired from a career doing maintenance for schools and businesses, his son had just one question: not if, but when would his father would get bored of retirement and get back to work?

    "Not too long," was the son's prediction. And he was right.

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    Two years ago Denver took over the position of logistics coordinator for San Jose's downtown holiday display, Christmas in the Park.

    What no one could have predicted, though, is just what a perfect fit the part-time, post-retirement job would be for Denver. In addition to his maintenance career, Denver had also spent a decade as a woodworker, selling hand-crafted wooden toys and bowls in craft fairs and stories up and down the west coast.

    It is as if every job he ever had in his life was teaching him skills he would need for this one.

    "It's the most rewarding thing I have ever done," says Denver.

    Denver is the go-to guy for any maintenance or repair issues on the elaborate display set up yearly in Plaza de Cesar Chavez. When one considers there are 40 holiday-themed exhibits, many with mannequins that move, and many decades-old, Denver is gone-to a lot.

    "I come home at the end of the day exhausted," Denver says. The exhaustion, he explains, is not from all the manual labor, "I'm used to that," he says, but rather the pressure to make sure everything on the two-acre site is running perfectly for the close to half a million people who see it every holiday season. Particularly the young people.

    "You see those little guys, they believe," Denver says. "They see the magic of the place."