If you’ve been paying attention, you know that Halloween is my favorite holiday. In fact, I love it so much I even wrote a book about it. I just can’t get enough of Halloween websites, Halloween décor, Halloween music…
I also love Christmas and the whole yuletide season. But while I really enjoy all the various holiday festivities from Thanksgiving through Twelfth Night, when the season is over, I don’t think much about it until later in the year. I think that’s how it is for most people.
However, there are a lot of folks out there who just are as passionate about Christmas as I am about Halloween. I always encourage those people to explore possible income streams related to their love of the holidays… though only a happy select few have the kind of Christmas spirit that it takes to create a holiday business and live the “Christmas Lifestyle” all year round!
One of those special and lucky people is a local guy known professionally as “Santa John.” John is perhaps the most realistic and natural Santa I’ve ever seen, right down to the real sparkle in his eye! He’s into Christmas and the spirit of Santa Claus like some guys are into football or fishing. In fact, his favorite movie is Miracle on 34th Street, and his favorite quote is from C.W. Howard, founder of the world’s first Santa School:
“Santa doesn’t enter through the chimney; he enters through the heart.”
Santa John started out playing Santa for his own family and friends, but then when he read about men who make a living as professional Santas all year round, he grew a beard and parlayed his uncanny resemblance to the Jolly Old Elf into a busy and fulfilling second career.
Though he keeps his day job of 30 years working as a skilled craftsman, John uses vacation time to appear in parades, on television and in films, and in national advertising campaigns, as well as making many, many personal appearances, especially at this time of year.
Do you have what it takes to become a professional Santa?
Being Santa is not so much a job as it is a calling. Of course, for a successful Santa, a big heart, an outgoing personality, and some acting ability are most important.
As for training, there are a number of schools across the country that prepare aspiring St. Nicks for duty. Noerr Programs of Denver, Colorado, hosts Santa University (at the “Noerr Pole,” of course!) where they train about 70 new Santas per year. Candidates are selected on the basis of resumes, background checks, and rigorous interviews. Bilingual Santas are especially in demand.
Students are coached extensively in techniques for making Holiday Magic, as well as how to cope with being on stage for 8-12 hours a day without breaking character, staying hydrated (those suits are HOT!) while managing bathroom breaks, and handling pretty much any situation that may arise.
Though Santa trainees can be of any ethnicity, only men with natural beards are accepted into the program. Sorry, ladies! But many Santa schools also offer “Mrs. Claus” training programs.
And if you’re a guy but don’t have the facial hair or the right body type to play Santa, you might consider playing an Elf… As long as you can accept the fact that you’ll always be a subordinate Claus!