It all started innocently enough.
A local elementary school asked me to be Santa for their early education kids with special needs. The principal had done it previous years, but he had moved to a different school. They had the Santa outfit to use, all I had to do was show up. Of course I said yes, remembering my own childhood and how magical Santa was to me. Christmas has always been one of the most important times of the year for me; the lights, Christmas music, smell of fresh pine, but most of all the happiness and joy everyone seems to have in their hearts.
So the morning came for me to be Santa. I disappeared into one of the offices and put on the suit. It brought me back to the years I spent during my youth performing at the Children’s Theatre in my home town. I was no longer me – I was now this jolly soul whose job was to share kindness and joy with the children I was about to meet. I was hooked!
That visit with Santa came and went, and even though it was just a few hours spent on a cold winter day, it meant a lot to me. I knew I wanted to do it again next year, so I researched and bought my own Santa suit, wig, and beard. I was set! I continued to visit the children at that same school for many years. There were lots of laughs and hugs, and to see the look in a child’s eyes when they see Santa is priceless. My most memorable visit was when a girl hopped up on my lap, looked me in the eye and said in a quiet voice, “Hi Santa!”. It was only two words and in that moment I didn’t realize their significance. The teachers and aides in the room looked very surprised as tears filled their eyes. Then they told me that was the first time they had ever heard her speak. The young lady who offered that simple greeting to Santa may not remember that moment, but it meant the world to me and is a memory I’ll carry forever.
Fast forward to today… I’m hooked now more than ever! I take the role of Santa very seriously because I think its important that children experience that same magic and joy that I did at Christmastime. So yes, I’m just a guy in a red suit. I’ve moved beyond the costume beard and cheesy boot toppers. Still, when I’m in that suit I have a responsibility to everyone – kids and adults – to portray Santa Claus authentically. That means taking actual classes about portraying Santa Claus, and investing in professional clothing and props that support the character.
I was fortunate to attend the Charles W Howard Santa Claus School, the oldest Santa School in the world. It’s been called “The Harvard of Santa Schools”.
Charles Howard was the first Macy’s Santa and was the technical advisor for the iconic Miracle on 34th Street. I also studied at the Christmas Performer’s Workshops, and am a member of Clausnet, the Santa Claus Conservatory, and several other groups.
I’d love to be your Santa Claus, and promise a fun, entertaining time when we visit.