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.”