True Confessions of a Mall Santa

by |December 20, 2012

Ho ho ho! If you think it's cold where you are this time of year, making the trek to the North Pole to visit with Santa Claus was no easy task. We all know that Santa is a pretty busy guy this time of year, but with Christmas nearly upon us, Santa took a few minutes from his busy schedule making toys at the North Pole to let us sit on his knee and ask the questions for a change. Check out our interview below:


What is the best Christmas gift you have ever given out?

Last year, one little boy told me he didn’t want anything for Christmas. He just wanted his daddy to come home from Afghanistan. What he didn’t know was that his father had come home early from deployment. His dad was dressed in his full military uniform and was hiding behind the set, waiting for his son to tell his wish to Santa. When dad came out and hugged his little boy, I can tell you that we all had big tears in our eyes. Everyone applauded and the little boy was so happy he couldn’t speak. His Christmas wish came true!


What is the strangest gift request you have been asked?

One little boy asked for a blue balloon, which I just happened to have under my chair. (Don’t ask me about this little coincidence!) Another time a little girl asked for a trip to China and a live monkey.


Kids say the darndest things—what’s the funniest thing you’ve ever heard a kid say?

One of the children who visited me said he wanted enough food to feed everyone in the world so that no one would be hungry. I asked him what food he thought everyone should have. He thought a long moment and then he brightly said, “Pizza!”


Surely your leg has been on the receiving end of a few ‘accidents’ – how did you handle that?

Santa is really lucky that diaper technology is so advanced. In addition, I learned a long time ago that Santa is magic. Santa always looks good and smells like pine trees and Christmas cookies. His suit and gloves stay in top condition and absolutely clean. Even going down a chimney doesn’t put a smear on that red velvet!


What is your favorite type of cookie, and do you prefer low-fat or whole milk?

The number one favorite cookie of Santa Claus is chocolate chip. Although Mrs. Claus has asked me to cut back, I still secretly prefer whole milk. And my reindeer still like tender, sweet carrots.


Has global warming affected any of your activities at the North Pole?

I rely on Rudolph to track the thickness of the polar ice cap and the temperatures worldwide. I am glad to report that the North Pole is in perfect ice-cold condition.


Where do you spend your summer vacation?

Sometimes you will find me at my South Pole home. At other times, Mrs. Claus and I will sneak away to pet the dolphins and enjoy the sun in Hawaii or snorkel in the Bahamas.


What made you decide to become Santa, and how exactly does one become a professional Santa?

I have had a beard for a number of years—and I have always liked Christmas and children. My friends kept asking me to be Santa for their children’s Christmas parties. One day at the mall, I was approached by a very friendly person who said I looked just like Santa. She gave me a business card that said, “We Have Big Boots to Fill. You look like Santa!” The card was signed by The Noerr Programs Corporation from Arvada, Colorado, that hires about 250 naturally bearded Santas each year to work in malls across 40 states. I decided I was ready!

So, I signed up for The Noerr Programs Santa School, which is called Santa University, and is held each summer in Colorado. I was in a class with about 80 other Santas just like me. I learned how to be friendly with families, how to pose with the children, and get the just the right smiles for the camera. I learned some sign language and other languages since Santa needs to be able to communicate with all of the children. We learned how to make our beards as white as snow for the season and we were instructed on the most important thing of all—the heart of Santa. Santa must truly care about the children and making a magical moment come true for each and every child who visits the set. I fell in love with being a Santa. As other Noeerr Programs Santas at the malls will tell you, it seems that the red suit picked me rather than I picked the red suit. Now, I am truly Santa. I am recognized everywhere I go, and so I am Santa 365 days a year.


How do you feel about the drinking & smoking ‘Mall Santa’ portrayal in some movies?

At The Noerr Programs’ Santa University, we are taught, above all, to preserve the magic and sanctity of Santa. Santa is always in the spotlight and always stays in character. He does not smoke, drink, or talk on a cell phone and always works to create holiday magic for the children.


What were some of your fondest memories of Christmas from your childhood?

Mother and Father put up our Christmas tree the night before Christmas—but we didn’t see it until Christmas morning. My brother and I lay awake listening for the bells ringing on Santa’s sleigh as it flew overhead. I was sure I could hear it! When we came down the stairs in the morning, the tree was lit and our stockings were filled. My brother and I received stockings with two new pencils, an orange, apples, walnuts and chocolate candies to open on Christmas morning. One year I got a red billfold, a flexible flyer sled and a Lionel Christmas train set. It was then that I knew that Christmas would be my favorite holiday and Santa Claus would always have a special place in my heart.


What’s the best remedy for a crying kid?

At Santa University, we learn to divert the child’s attention by having them turn their head toward an object while we speak in a quiet voice. I have found that babies react positively to cooing and a gentle finger under their chin. Often older children will come closer and stop crying if you hold out your hand and ask them, “Would you like to give Santa five?” Asking questions and engaging the child in a conversation also helps to quiet a crying child. Sometimes I ask the parent if they would like to be in the picture—sometimes I even ask them if they want to sit in my chair and I will stand behind. Santa is still in the picture, and it’s still a precious memory.


What is your favorite holiday other than Christmas?

Easter. Easter is when my holiday work is finished, and I can start to plan my summer vacation in a warm place. (The North Pole gets rather cold!) I also like Easter because my good friend the Easter Bunny comes to visit the children at malls during Easter. The Bunny is photogenic and a good listener (he doesn’t talk, he just listens!)


What is your favorite place to visit on Christmas Eve?

My favorite place to visit every year is the last home on my list, because that’s when I get to stay a little longer and play with some of the toys I deliver. I build Christmas villages out of blocks and send the helicopters into flight. I read a Christmas story to a new Christmas doll and put together a brand new puzzle. Every year, I choose a different home for my last stop of the night.


What’s the best response to any non-believer?

If the child says, “I don’t believe in you,” I say, “But I believe in you!” Or if they ask, “Are you the real Santa?” I answer, “What do you think?” They will often say, “I think you are the real Santa.” If they ask if I am real, I say, “Just tug on my beard and see what you think.” Santa is amazing and amazingly real. He is as real as the spirit of Christmas.


What would you like for Christmas?

Santa never promises a child a specific item, but always offers hope and says, “We will see what we can do.” If I could ask for anything, it would be that all families that come to see me at Christmas time would be together and well and happy during this most joyous of seasons.


Special thanks to Noerr Santa University and Simon Malls

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