Santa's silenced sax gets encore

Santa's silenced sax gets encore

Medford's "Saxophone Santa" has the green light to play on this season.

Ordered by police Friday to cease saxophone solos in front of his East Jackson Street home, Ron Bartlett received a variance to the city's unnecessary noise ordinance Tuesday afternoon. Public outcry over the police department's position prompted officials to grant a permit for the retired band teacher, said Deputy Police Chief Tim George.

"We have been taken care of," Bartlett said, praising the efforts of police Lt. Bob Hansen, who hand-delivered paperwork to Bartlett's home.

"All I had to do was sit back and watch it all materialize."

With approval from City Manager Mike Dyal, Bartlett is allowed to play his alto saxophone between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. through Christmas.

The 78-year-old said he planned serenades tonight and through the weekend, weather permitting. A short Christmas Eve concert is likely once he and his wife, Gloria, return from an evening church service, Bartlett said.

Bartlett's impromptu performances have become a Medford tradition over the past 10 years. Dressed as Santa Claus, Bartlett accompanies singing and dancing figurines on his front lawn, part of an elaborate holiday lights display.

Having Medford Mayor Gary Wheeler as a band student at Hedrick Middle School years ago probably gave a "jolly old elf" advantage over a neighbor who had lodged a complaint, Bartlett said. But George admitted that he and other police officials had personal reasons to ensure the show went on.

"When my kids were little, that was one of the stops we had to make," George said. "We had pressure from within — from our own families."

The Police Department also is providing traffic barriers for the neighbor who initially complained about noise from Bartlett's saxophone but, in a later conversation with Hansen, referred to vehicles pulling into her driveway, George said, adding that the neighbor is satisfied with the resolution.

The Bartletts said police did not reveal the identity of their unhappy neighbor although they guessed it was not a newcomer to the neighborhood. George declined to identify the neighbor involved.

"She's already feeling bad because she's the Grinch," he said.

Although a measure of harmony prevailed, Bartlett said he plans to renew the permit next year to "make it legal."

"I'll do what's necessary to keep everybody happy," he said.

"He's going to try to blow a little bit softer," Gloria Bartlett added.

Reach reporter Sarah Lemon at 776-4487, or e-mail

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