BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- It all started with a flat tire.
” If I had to change the tire on my car I would use Maxine to help me get to my destination,” said 28-year-old Brandon Johnson.
Last year, Johnson decided to get creative and put his Pitbulls, Maxine and Chris, to work after his car broke down, adding a skateboard as quicker transportation.
“People would just record me when I would go outside. They’d say who does he think he is racing cars like he’s Santa or something? So I Put antlers on them and a Santa hat ” Johnson said.
Little did he know those interactions would soon garner him internet fame. A fan video hit the popular Instagram site The Shaderoom and got more than one million views, and recently one of his TikTok videos got well over 360,000.
“It was pretty much going viral on Facebook but not to the point where it’s like millions, but when she posted to the Shaderoom that’s when they called me Hood Santa coming around the town so it was pretty cool.”
Johnson, who was born in Buffalo, grew up in the church playing piano at Open Praise and Saving Souls Revival Center. He says he wants to use his newfound notoriety to give back to the Queen City.
He plans to start taking clothing donations and handing them out this winter to those in need, an idea he started last year when he brought the “Hood Santa” to life.
“I had to build my wagon, put the lights on it, try to make them come on so I feel like the elves were on strike because I did the labor myself but it was a good turnout overall.”
And he says his Pitbulls are as sweet as elves too. Reminding anyone that comments on his post that there are no bad dogs, just bad owners.
“It’s all about the owner and how you raise them. Dog’s, in general, are like kids. I’ll try to have them sit down but they want to do their own thing and have fun and do what dogs like to do.”
And just like Santa’s reindeer, Maxine and Chris like to take off and go.
“People will see me in the middle of the street and say oh my goodness who is this and my mom is like please get out the street. She goes crazy but I’m good I know what I’m doing,” Johnson laughed.
Brandon Johnson and his two dogs are familiar faces in Buffalo with many stopping for pictures with the self-proclaimed “Hood Santa”🎅I’ll tell you how he found viral fame and is using it to give back to the community on @news4buffalo pic.twitter.com/rWH2JoF6bK— Kelly Khatib (@KellyKhatibtv) July 26, 2021
For more information on how you can catch a view of “Hood Santa ” click here.
Kelly Khatib is a digital reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.