Tom Sites, 73, waves to passing cars as he picks up litter along Southwest 320th Street in Federal Way on Dec. 18. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

Tom Sites, 73, waves to passing cars as he picks up litter along Southwest 320th Street in Federal Way on Dec. 18. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

Who is the elf on 320th Street?

73-year-old Federal Way resident dresses as elf to pick up trash, get some exercise and spread holiday cheer.

In the spirit of Christmas cheer and city cleanliness, a trash-collecting elf has taken to the streets of Federal Way.

Drive down Southwest 320th Street almost any given morning and you’ll find an elf, dressed in a festive red and green outfit, picking up litter and waving to passing traffic.

The elf is 73-year-old Tom Sites, a Federal Way resident.

“If I stand in one place and wave, then I’m a politician,” Sites joked. “So I have to keep moving.”

Sites walks daily to relieve the pain of several bulging discs in his back. He used to walk around nearby lakes, but didn’t feel he was serving a purpose.

So, he decided to walk a new three-mile route, traveling from Twin Lakes Elementary School to Decatur High School and back along Southwest 320th Street, and clean up the city streets on the way.

“What happens is, you become part of the fabric after awhile,” he said. “People don’t notice it. They don’t understand somebody is picking up all of their trash.”

It would be hard to miss sight of Sites on the street now. For Halloween, he dressed up as a pumpkin and for Thanksgiving, he wore a turkey costume. This holiday season, many community members have been on the lookout for his red and green elf ensemble — complete with elf ears and tights.

Sites carries a garbage bag and a trash picker tool, waving to nearly every vehicle that passes by. Some drivers wave back; some honk their car horns excitedly.

The simple greeting puts a smile on peoples’ faces and spreads holiday cheer, Sites said.

“I’m really here to serve a purpose,” he said. “It’s about how you make people feel. That’s what counts.”


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

Tom Sites dresses as an elf to spread holiday cheer while serving the community on Dec 18 in Federal Way. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

Tom Sites dresses as an elf to spread holiday cheer while serving the community on Dec 18 in Federal Way. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

More in News

file photo
Housing and finance insiders call for subsidized housing families can own, instead of rent

Advocates say increasing homeownership will strengthen the community, build intergenerational wealth

Photo courtesy of Vickie Chynoweth
Tasting Federal Way: End of summer fruit pie

The Taste of Federal Way is Saturday, Sept. 25 from 11 a.m… Continue reading

Federal Way Extended Stay America (1400 S. 320th Street). King County photo
County invests $500K to assist, temporarily house Afghan refugees

Refugees will stay at former Extended Stay American hotel in Federal Way.

Photo courtesy of Kristen Gregory via the Federal Way Police Department’s Facebook page.
Mayor proposes adding 13 officers to Federal Way police force

The department currently has 11 officer vacancies, five more officers on leave after Monday’s shooting.

File photo.
Man beaten then stabbed at Federal Way bus stop

The assault occurred around 8 p.m. Sep. 20.

Photo courtesy of South Sound News
Man with gun shot by Federal Way police after attempting 3 carjackings

Suspect transported to Harborview Medical Center.

t
SeaTac girl, 15, reportedly may have hit a second pedestrian

King County Sheriff’s Office seeks public’s help to find injured man

Courtesy photo
Police, FBI investigating possible hate crime after Federal Way Sikh center burglarized

The Sikh community center, school and place of worship in Federal Way was burglarized in the afternoon of Sept. 17.

The Puget Sound Naval Shipyard is seen Oct. 13, 2018, at Naval Base Kitsap, Bremerton, Wash. Photo courtesy of Naval Base Kitsap
Former Navy sailor sentenced to prison for distributing deadly fentanyl pills

Federal Way man to be sentenced for supplying the pills which killed a sailor in Bremerton in April 2020.

Most Read