How a UPS driver dressed like the Grinch stole Chicago’s heart

LINCOLN PARK – 5-year-old Harrison Bean is happy the Grinch is delivering parcels on his street.

The Grinch – or UPS driver Jermaine Marks, rather – thrilled his neighbors last week when he showed up to deliver packages to Chicago homes, green fur, pug noses and all. He decorated his delivery truck like a reindeer, with a big red nose on the front.

On Thursday, after delivering a box to Harrison’s home, Marks stopped by and saw the 5-year-old through the window. He motioned to the child with his fluffy fingers, in character.

“It was so good,” Harrison told his father, Alex Bean. The kid has watched “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” a dozen times this year. “I think his heart must have grown three sizes.”

Alex Bean took a photo of the Marks display and posted it on Twitter, where she racked up over 100,000 likes.

The people of Lincoln Park have said that Marks is a local celebrity.

“He’s a legend of this neighborhood,” said property manager Barbara Garcia.

“He always has his music in his truck, always dancing and delivering,” said Gloria Abuhasma, owner of Hair Tech Salon. “He’s just a happy soul.”

“Every year everyone waits for their costume,” said resident Sefka Spahija. “It is something else.

Credit: Colin Boyle / Block Club Chicago
Jermaine Marks drives his UPS route through Lincoln Park and Lakeview on December 29, 2021. Marks went viral in a tweet of him dressed as a Grinch as he delivered packages before Christmas.

Marks bought the Grinch-y green dentures himself, and his delivery company bosses were “totally cool” that he wears them on his itinerary, he said.

Marks also owns a UPS jacket that is tailor-made to look like a brown Santa Claus costume, staying true to his employer’s colors. And around Halloween, he’s been known to move boxes resembling a werewolf, scarecrow, or zombie.

Credit: Supplied / Brands Jermaine
Jermaine Marks disguised as Santa Claus from UPS.

During Marks’ more than ten years along his journey on Diversey Parkway, he’s also brought the neighborhood to life with smooth R&B, Motown classics and – when it’s the season – Christmas hits, all played. in his truck.

It’s this time of year that Marks feels the call to transform his truck into a reindeer, don his famous jacket and become “UPS Santa”. The Grinch is his latest original idea, now in his second year.

“Everyone benefits. And then they want to take pictures – pictures, pictures, pictures, ”Marks said. “I try to stay in character as much as possible. Until someone starts talking to me seriously about their package, then I have to break character.

Marks likes to laugh at himself. Preparing for the holidays started as a joke: About 10 years ago, Marks told his sister-in-law that he was “Reality Santa”.

“Said Marks. “In my job, you go to see Santa Claus all year round. I am Santa Claus even when I am not in disguise.

So, Marks’ sister-in-law sent him a UPS package – complete with his brown Santa costume and a matching hat to top it off. Over the years, Marks has made it his own, adding fluffy furs, a woolen beard, fluffy white eyebrows, a fake belly, boots, and a corncob pipe.

The happy delivery driver does not see himself working elsewhere. He started at UPS 19 years ago at the age of 19. Before being UPS Santa, he was “Money Marks,” a young man from the West Side pursuing a career as a professional boxer.

Credit: Colin Boyle / Block Club Chicago
Jermaine Marks poses with his decorated UPS truck along his route in Lincoln Park and Lakeview on December 29, 2021. Marks went viral in a tweet of him dressed as a Grinch as he delivered packages before Christmas.

A part-time factory job at UPS – with shifts starting at 2 a.m. – supported Marks as he moonlighted as a junior welterweight, battling fights at televised events across the country. He took Olympian Terrance “Heat” Cauthen in 12 rounds at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. He was invited to train at training camps with notable boxers like Angel Manfredy.

The boxer’s lifestyle was physically taxing and the money wasn’t great. Marks has given himself a two-year window to succeed. Two years passed and tragic news arrived: her 5-year-old daughter, Jamarielle, was suffering from leukemia.

Marks hung up his gloves and began working full time at UPS to help his daughter recover. A father of three, Marks was in Jamarielle’s corner as she faced cancer twice: radiation therapy ruled out the leukemia, but then she got thyroid cancer. Everyone said to Jamarielle: “You are a fighter, just like your father,” he said.

Now 23, Jamarielle Ransom-Marks has twice survived cancer. The experience taught her father the power to stay present.

“It humbles you and puts you in perspective of what really matters,” Marks said. “That’s why I always smile. I always have a smile. I try to smile as much as I can, with people, and I try to make them happy. That’s my goal.”

Credit: Colin Boyle / Block Club Chicago
Jermaine Marks stops by to see his “working wife” Sefka Spahija along his UPS route in Lincoln Park and Lakeview on December 29, 2021. Marks went viral in a tweet of him dressed as a Grinch as he delivered packages before Christmas.

Whether in costume or not, Marks never misses the opportunity to connect with the people on his journey: Abuhasma and his hairdressers at the Hair Tech Salon, the friendly dentist Jeffrey Feffer, his pals. of the AT&T store and the daycare workers who can’t get enough of his music.

Marks said he saw small children grow up and he remembers a boy who affectionately called his musical wheels “The La La Truck”. A 7-Eleven employee thanked Marks for providing a listening ear after his father’s death.

“Within five minutes of dropping off a package, you can change someone’s day,” Marks said. “I didn’t know I could have that kind of effect on people.”

Making people happy and giving them gifts is like a gig with a bigger purpose.

Credit: Colin Boyle / Block Club Chicago
Jermaine Marks delivers packages along his UPS route to Lincoln Park and Lakeview on December 29, 2021. Marks went viral in a tweet of him dressed as a Grinch as he delivered packages before Christmas.

“It’s hard work. Especially during a pandemic,” Marks said. “Businesses and families have all suffered, and they need a little holiday cheer.”

Marks is already thinking about Christmas next year. He plans to unveil another holiday costume.

“But that’s to be kept private for now,” Marks said, mocking himself again. “I just have to keep everyone on their toes.”

Credit: Colin Boyle / Block Club Chicago
Alex Bean and Jermaine Marks pose for a photo next to his truck in Lincoln Park on December 29, 2021. Marks went viral in Bean’s tweet showing him dressed as a Grinch as he delivered packages before Christmas.
Credit: Colin Boyle / Block Club Chicago
Jermaine Marks has made many friendships along his UPS route over the years – he’s even seen Ezekil Caraballo (left) go from a child to a young adult, pictured on December 29, 2021. Marks has gone viral in one tweet of him dressed as the Grinch as he delivered packages before Christmas.
Credit: Colin Boyle / Block Club Chicago
Jermaine Marks poses with longtime friends – Tony Regelbrugge and Ron Montalbano – from his UPS route on December 29, 2021. Marks went viral in a tweet of him dressed as a Grinch as he delivered packages before Christmas.
Credit: Colin Boyle / Block Club Chicago
Jermaine Marks poses for a photo with longtime friend Adel Madi, a local salon owner, along his UPS route to Lincoln Park and Lakeview on December 29, 2021. Marks went viral in a tweet of him dressed as a Grinch during that he was delivering packages before Christmas.

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