Behind the Flute


The flute playing Santa, aka Lamar Roberts, plays his flute under the magic tree to an adoring crowd. Photo by George Frey / Bearing News

George Frey

Living Windows has been a holiday tradition in Columbia for years. The celebration invites the old, young, students and tourists alike to sample local businesses and their products through their intricate and often silly window displays. Lamar Roberts has been an icon of the festival for nearly a decade, and is known to Columbians as ‘the flute playing Santa.’ Roberts began playing Santa after he performed at Commerce Bank with his flute.
“I played at Commerce Bank one year, and it just kind of stuck,” Roberts said. “I’ve been playing at Living Windows probably about eight years now.”
Roberts is no doubt a staple of the Living Windows festival, much of Roberts’ life for the other 364 days of the year is one that revolves around mindfulness and spreading awareness of mental health.
“I’m a mental health advocate,” Roberts said. “I work for the Phoenix program, and I help people get off of drugs. I teach a spiritual meditation group, and it’s pretty simple. Just try to get out and put one foot in front of the other and do the next right thing, and I try to teach other people to do the same.”
The journey of Roberts is one that can serve as an inspiration to many. As Roberts followed his dream at becoming a professional musician.
“I always wanted to be a  street musician, so… when I grew up… I became one,” Roberts said.