Eric J. Harris died too soon in his sleep on December 27, 2018. Eric was born in Washington, D.C. but grew up and lived most of his life in Tampa. He moved to DeLand in 2011 and grew to love it in no time. Eric loved people and loved to make them laugh and enjoy themselves. He was a very generous man, always ready to give whatever he had to whomever needed it. He was also a wonderful cook, baker, dancer and caller. From Tallahassee to Key West, Eric called contra dances, a relative of square dancing, and was a favorite among dancers, especially beginners and kids for the patience and joy with which he taught. Dance organizers found him unbelievably generous when travelling to call for far flung dances struggling to attract enough people to out-number the band members. Beginning callers never forgot his generosity with the microphone and collection of dances. Coworkers without a car got a ride home at the end of a late shift. He loved puns, and may have shared them a little too generously at times! He also danced Zydeco, English County dancing, and Square dancing. He studied and practiced Tai Chi for many years and was an avid bicyclist and photographer. Eric was very pleased when his blood donations exceeded 25 gallons.
He had many professions - waiter, line cook, bartender, commercial fisherman, owner of a mobile dog grooming business, and account rep at an engraving company. Most recently he was a Guest Experience Host at Sea Life Orlando and Santa Claus at the Paddock Mall in Ocala. Many an Ocala family made sure to bring their children (known as his target audience) to see Santa Eric year after year. Though in a different uniform at Sea Life, he was not always able to remain incognito, his target audience could recognize him anywhere! Eric knew the power of music and dance and the magic of Santa Claus – it has been a joy to feel the power and magic of Eric! He will be greatly missed by his wife, family, friends, co-workers, dance communities, and target audiences. Besides his wife, Myriam Lemay of DeLand, he is survived by a sister, Ivy Harris, brothers Benjamin and Adam Harris, two nephews, and three nieces, all of Tampa. A celebration of his life will be held at the Orange City Lions Club on Saturday, February 9 at 2pm. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Pioneer Arts Settlement in Barberville or your local blood bank.