Winnipeg's "Chief Elf" has died after spending more than five decades spreading Christmas joy.

The Christmas Cheer Board is confirming their long-time executive director Kai Madsen has died. A statement on his passing will be released later Wednesday.

Madsen retired from his position in August after dedicating more than 50 years to the board.

The retired director began volunteering with the board when he first moved to Winnipeg as a young man, citing his love of Christmas. His love of Christmas has touched the lives of tens of thousands of people each year since.

Madsen's last Christmas was a difficult one, as they could not do hampers, opting instead for food vouchers due to the pandemic. He was hopeful Christmas of 2021 would have a different tune.

In Madsen's last statement as Executive Director in August, he said "it’s been a wonderful journey, a large part of my life, and I owe them a debt of gratitude. I’ve seen the best of everybody and when you think well of people, good things happen."