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Pancho Claus hospitalized with chest pains

MCALLEN, Texas – Pancho Claus, the man known for passing out gifts to kids in Houston, is in the hospital.

On Wednesday morning, Pancho Claus, also known as Richard Reyes, was admitted to a hospital in McAllen after having chest pains.

“Right now, he’s doing OK, he’s still in pain and complaining a little about the pain, but for the most part, he’s in good spirits,” said Rene Hernandez, Reyes' son. “He’s still joking around with the nurses and stuff.”

Reyes said he and his dad, who is 66 years old, were starting a Pancho Claus in McAllen. Hernandez said his dad was having chest pains during the week.

“Just last night it got really bad and he couldn’t take it anymore and he drove himself to the ER and I didn’t even know where he was going,” said Hernandez. “When we got to the ER, he had a clogged artery preventing blood from going to his heart properly, and that’s why he was feeling all the pain and pressure.”

PHOTOS: Pancho Claus spreads holiday cheer

Hernandez said he is scared because his dad had a heart attack scare back in 2009.

Pancho Claus was hosting a Christmas in July scholarship event on Monday in Houston but had to cancel it because of his illness.

“I’m pretty sure he’s disappointed, but I think um, I honestly think he needs a break,” said Hernandez. “I love them (the fans) and thank you and please continue to pray for my dad because I don’t think I can do this by myself.”

Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo, along with other law enforcement, was supposed to be at the event on Monday.

“What he does and what that program does is insure so many kids if not that for their economic status would not have a pleasant Christmas,” said Acevedo. “To be there and you see hundreds of kids with smiles, he brings a lot of joy, he does a great job of planting seeds of hope and goodwill.”

During Christmas, the Tex-Mex style Santa always wears a zoot suit, fedora, and rides in low riders, handing out gifts to kids on the east side of Houston.

Acevedo said he hopes Reyes gets better soon.

“We want him to focus on his recovery because he’s got work ahead of him,” said Acevedo. “We need to get you healthy because we need you back Christmas coming.”