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  • Writer's pictureKristin Guglietti

Santa, My Neighbor inspired by Santa look alike


Courtesy photo The book cover of Santa, My Neighbor by Hammonton resident Steven DeStefano.

HAMMONTON—Lifelong Hammonton resident Steven DeStefano wrote a children’s book called Santa, My Neighbor, which will be released on Nov. 28 and is currently available for preorder at barnesandnoble.com/w/book/114430434.


It is the story about a boy inspired by his 4-year-old son, Steven DeStefano III, who moves in next door to a man that looks a lot like Santa. The man who looks like Santa is inspired by Fred Hayes, DeStefano’s neighbor on Fairview Avenue.


“We live off Fairview Avenue and my neighbor, Fred [Hayes], looks exactly like Santa Claus, and that’s what inspired the idea,” DeStefano said. “I have a 4-year-old son and I was thinking what it would be like to be a 4-year-old kid and live next to a guy that looked like Fred.”

The book will show the inner conflict the boy faces while trying to stay off the naughty list.

The following is from the book’s overview on Barnes & Noble’s website:


“When a young boy relocates to a quaint, snow-draped town, his curious heart never anticipates the magical twist his life is about to take. His new neighborhood seems like any other, with children playing and trees swaying, but one house-and one man-stands out. With a chuckling belly, sparkling eyes, and a beard as white as snow, this peculiar neighbor ignites the boy’s wildest imagination: Could he be living next to Santa Claus?


“The journey that unfolds is nothing short of enchanting. As days turn to nights and seasons change, the boy grapples with the delightful yet challenging notion that the world’s most beloved gift-giver might just be his neighbor. From peeping through windows to discerning mysterious sounds, he becomes a little detective, all while wrestling with the idea that every innocent mischief might land him on the dreaded naughty list.


“Santa, My Neighbor takes readers on a whimsical adventure through a child’s boundless imagination, capturing the essence of innocence, wonder, and the age-old yearning to be good. Along the way, the tale serves as a gentle reminder that life’s most magical moments are often found in the most unexpected places. Whether you’re a believer in Santa or simply in the magic of childhood, this story promises to touch hearts and rekindle the joy of life’s simple wonders,” the book’s overview on Barnes & Noble’s website read.


Last year, Hayes dressed up like Santa Claus and visited DeStefano’s family.


“He actually did dress up like Santa last year and he came over and hung out with the kids for a little bit,” DeStefano said. “They were scared. He’s enormous. He’s like six foot five.”


His 2-year-old daughter, Giada DeStefano, also makes an appearance in the book.


When DeStefano told his son about the book, he was thrilled.


“My son’s pretty thrilled about it. He thought it was pretty cool when I showed him the pictures because I sent the artist pictures of my kids, and it resembles them,” DeStefano said. “So, I was like, ‘Oh, this is you,’ and there’s a picture of the classroom and he was naming his friends and saying, ‘This one is Hudson and this is Tina!’ so it was pretty cool.”


DeStefano was also a creative writing minor at Rowan University.


“I was a creative writing minor in college, so I used to write a ton. When I have an idea, it comes to me in story form. That’s just how it comes to me,” DeStefano said.


Santa, My Neighbor will be DeStefano’s first book, and will be published by Palmetto Publishing. Illustrations are by Poornima Madhushani.


The hardcover version is $22.99 and paperback is $13.99.


Santa, My Neighbor will be available on Nov. 28 online on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million. The Golden Feather and Casciano Coffee Bar & Sweetery will have some physical copies available.


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