The holiday season is about spreading cheer, and one member of the Wheeling community could use some extra kindness this year.
Charles Waldrum is known by many Wheeling natives as the bearded bicyclist who is devoted to guarding the streets of Wheeling with his watchful eye. Until recently, he was the unofficial finale of the Wheeling Christmas parade, trailing behind Santa to spread his own brand of holiday cheer. Over time, his preference for patrolling the streets at night earned him the nickname “Moondog.” Although the nickname caught on, it’s one that Charles himself does not care for.
While Charles’ appearance might be a little rough around the edges, his warmth and commitment to his community is a true example of what makes Wheeling the Friendly City. East Wheeling resident, Boogie Johnson, knows this better than anyone. “Charles was always around when I was growing up, so he almost feels like family to me,” said Boogie. As an adult, Charles has remained a prominent figure in both Boogie’s life and the lives of his children. “Whenever I would take the kids to the Convenient on 16th Street, Charles would always be there and would give the kids money for candy or a pop…and he would do that for anyone. He loves kids and joking around with them. He’s really funny”
Those sentiments are echoed by Charles’ cousin, Brian Walker. “Charles is just a kind-hearted guy who would give you the shirt off of his back and would help you in any way,” said Brian.
Christmas time is especially important to Charles, as he’s well-known across the Ohio Valley for his parade appearances. “He loved being a part of the parades and he went to all of them. He would ride his bike up Blaine hill to the St. Clairsville parade and on Route 2 to get to the Moundsville parade…no matter if it was rain, sleet or snow. He was like the mailman, he always delivered.”
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This year, it’s time for the community to show up for Charles the way he has shown up for us. After the loss of his sister and dealing with ongoing health complications, his spirits are, understandably, low. “He needs us right now and it’s our turn to cheer him up,” said Boogie.
To show Charles how much he’s appreciated by the community, Boogie asked his Facebook friends to consider sending a letter or card to Charles to lift his spirits. In less than 24 hours from the time the post was created, it was shared by over 1,400 people and received dozens of comments from folks near and far expressing what Charles has meant to them and passing along their well-wishes.
Charles currently resides in Peterson Rehabilitation Center. Cards and letters can be sent to the following address:
20 Homestead Avenue
Wheeling, WV 26003
This story serves as an example of how we can all share some joy with those who are spending the holidays in assisted living facilities. Many residents have been unable to connect in-person with friends and family due to COVID-related safety protocol. With the latest surge of COVID cases keeping the doors closed at many nursing homes and assisted living facilities, the simple act of sending a card to a resident could mean a lot to someone who is spending the holidays alone. Let’s continue to reach out to those we know, and those we don’t, during the holidays and year-round.
• Alex Panas is the Program Manager for Wheeling Heritage, where she works with artists, small business owners, and community stakeholders to provide technical assistance and create meaningful programs that enhance Wheeling. She also serves as the managing editor for Weelunk. Alex lives in St. Clairsville with her husband where they raise four cats and four spunky backyard chickens.