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Holly

Just a very special kid. I have one child and she is a wonderful young lady in her early twenties. Holly is part of not only my life and family; she is part of my Santa Claus world. As a child she came out to Santa's Village to see me and enjoyed the park. She knew that I "helped" Santa. When I did have a day off, I would take her around the park and enjoy Santa's Village just as any other parent would. I often wonder how she felt about having a father that was basically Santa all the time. Other fathers were firemen, managers and such, but hers is a year round Santa…all of her life. She could not tell her friends as no one would believe her. Think about it. Here is a child who has been to Santa's House, seen the frozen North Pole, feeds the reindeer, rides in a sleigh and can do it when ever she pleases. (Thanks to all the props at the park.) I was always busy at Christmas time of course. She would come see me at one of the locations I might be working at. I travel a lot and did back then too, so I was rarely home during the Holiday Season. I imagine her memories of childhood at Christmas are "Dads gone again." Which I was. I can count on one hand the Christmas Eves and Christmas Days she and I have been together. I do believe her childhood was tainted by me and my job. My wife and I told her there was a "real Santa" but I don't think the magic of Santa was ever there for her. How could it be? I did take her to see Santa when she was little, but you could see it in her eyes she wasn't buying it. After she grew up a bit, Holly often joked that if she wanted to see me all she had to do was walk into any mall and I would be sitting in center court. Our memories of Santa relate to her and I doing things together. Each year for about eight or nine years, I would photograph her sitting in Santa's Chair by herself at the park. I now have my daughter growing up in pictures in that chair. She filmed a couple commercials with me along with some print work. I was asked by some other Santas why I just didn't try to hide the fact I was Santa from Santa's Village. That way she could enjoy the magic. How would she feel though when she found out? The daughter of a very famous Santa once told me to never hide the facts of what I do from her. In the long run, that was the best advice I ever got. Today, I think Holly has some very fond memories of Santa and the experiences she got to have. She has a unique perspective on the whole issue. The day she was born she was Santa's daughter and the same is true to this very day. She sees me every now and then in full regalia and when people get excited to see "Santa" she just smiles and says, "That's just my Dad." Thanks Holly for sharing and this "Santa" will always keep your name in his good book.

Legendary Santa Claus

Legendary Santa Claus

 

A Mother and a Mentor

A Mother and a Mentor Like most of us say, my mother was an extraordinary woman. She was one of two children growing up in a small town. She was a very likeable and friendly person even at a young age. She took dance, was extremely active in school events, a baton twirler for the marching band, and even won Miss Strawberry Festival as a little girl and a teen. I always thought my mother was beautiful, but upon seeing photos of her in high school I decided that she was strikingly beautiful. Some of my earliest memories are of my mother singing to me. We always sang together. She had a wonderful sense of humor and a very quick wit. She always had these funny little songs and rhymes that she would say. "A peanut sat on a railroad track, It's heart was all a flutter, Around the bend came number 10, TOOT! TOOT! Peanut butter!" "Ooey Gooey was a worm, a wittle worm was he, he crawled upon a railroad track, a train he did not see, TOOT! TOOT!.......... Squish! Squish!......... Ooey! Gooey!" She always had something to make you smile when you had a bad day. You could come home from school had having one of the worst days in your life, and she would suddenly, magically, make everything better. I have extremely fond memories, as most of us do, of my mother during the Christmas season. As soon as Thanksgiving dinner was cleaned up, we would start planning for Christmas. We'd sing Christmas carols as we decorated the tree and house. We sang lots of times during the season, anytime, anywhere. Mom would play the piano, or the organ, or her accordion while we sang at home. She even helped me for many years to 'assemble' items so I could dress up as Santa Claus. Whether it was a handkerchief beard or one made out of cotton balls, she'd take my picture, hug me, and call me her little Santa. All during the season, Mom would talk to my sister and I about Christmas in general. We talked quite often about the true 'Reason for the Season.' We talked a lot about the magic of Christmas too. Santa and Mrs. Claus, the elves, the reindeer, and living at the North Pole. She helped bring the magic of Santa alive every year. She always made sure we were able to watch the Christmas specials on tv. We always went out driving around looking at lights a couple of times every year, even when I was older. I can even remember taking a girl I was dating in high school with us, who I ended up marrying. Sometimes, I really think my mother was training me to portray Santa. It wouldn't surprise me. She always had a way of making Christmas a magical time of year. She got a big kick out of me when I first started portraying Santa. She never got to see me with the real beard, although she knew it would happen because of how much white I was getting in my hair at the time. Mom passed away February 8, 2000. She would have been 59 on her birthday. September 10 was her birthday. She has been on my mind a lot here lately, which I guess is why I am writing this now. Mom had had emphysema and had to have a lung transplant. We would have lost her sooner if not for the transplant. The transplant gave her one more year with us. She made it the most magical time, especially that last Christmas together. My kids thought that their Nana, as they called her, was the greatest person on Earth. And she was. Thanks Mom, for everything you taught me, for the magic you brought and instilled in me, and for making me who I am today. Happy Birthday Mom…..we love you and miss you dearly.

Santa Bear

Santa Bear

 

Mentors

Over the past few weeks I have thought a great deal about my father and how he inadvertently has influenced me in my becoming Santa. Yes, Dad had a loving heart for all people, especially children. A devout Christian, Dad relished in the celebration of Christ's birth. He loved to give and to watch the faces of those he gave to. I guess it was this early image of my own father that has drawn me to the role I now occupy as Santa. But there are other men, too, who wore the suit that I remember fondly from Christmases past that helped to pass the flame of Christmas Spirit to me. These men were Santas too, and not just in their suits. They lived it. One still does. As early as I can remember I had been taken by my parents, grandparents, and aunts to see Santa. One of the first that I went to see, and who I have gotten to know over the years was Jay Long. Jay and his wife were Mr. and Mrs. Claus and could be seen everywhere during the early eighties at Christmastime. I remember then fondly appearing at school breakfasts and in parades. I also remember the day that Dad brought Santa home to see me personally. What a day we had. I was only four, but I had Santa all to myself. I showed him every toy I had and we talked about everything. I guess that it was this experience with Jay that taught me that Santa is much more and should be much more to a child than an untouchable being that sees all and waits to punish with coal in your stocking. No, Santa is a friend. He is a being that radiates love and giving, something that the child may not find in any other part of the world. The more I remember and the more I noticed later about Jay, he was the same with all children and loved them unconditionally. Now in his 80s, Jay can be seen around town often. Even without his long beard on you can see Santa by the gleem in his eye. To me, he is Santa. Another man whom I have admired since childhood actually held for many years the post that I do at the same mall. His name was Okie Turley. I remember going to see him later in my childhood. He was the first Santa that I ever saw with real whiskers. He, just as Jay, was Santa. He cared for the children and seemed to enjoy each and every visit, a task that sometimes can become hard as child after child crosses your lap. That is a lesson that I learned from him, to enjoy each and every moment. If you enjoy them, they will enjoy you and will remember their visit more fondly. No child deserves their visit with Santa to be marred by disinterest. Well, Okie was always interested. He also was very authentic, a lesson I learned from him. Also, whether at a summer picnic, a jaunt to Sam's Club, or in the chair Okie was Santa. He used to really make some of us nervous because he knew all of our names. I know now that Grandpa had told him everything about me. They were fishing buddies. Both of these men had a lasting impression on countless children and relished their role as Santa Claus. Neither of them had any idea that one of the children who visited them both would have picked up their torch. Though Okie is gone now and Jay is semi-retired I still think of them as my role models in true Santahood. I plan on visiting with Jay at some point and talking to him about Santa. I like to think Okie already knows that the mantle has been passed. Thanks guys! Many others have also helped to shape this Santa. Some I will never or haven't met notably are Santa Jim Yellig, Santa Charles Howard, Santa Ed Butchart. These men all seemed to have a piece to offer that I did before have. And of course there is all of you. Thanks. Santa is something that is passed from one to another of us. An idea is so often shared. We sometimes don't know how our ideas are taken and used. Sometimes I wonder if Saint Nicholas had any idea that the torch would be picked up this many centuries later. Also, we need to be aware just who we are impacting to be the next generation. Jay and Okie had no idea, and neither do we really. Santa is a torch fueled by Christmas Spirit. At some point, in order to survive, it will choose another. Let us all be thankful taht at one time we were chosen. Glad tidings and much love, Santa John Johnson in West Virginia

John Johnson

John Johnson

 

Time Marches On

A friend of mine retired off the job last Friday and it made me think just how quickly time passes. The fellow who retired is a year younger than I am and it make me think. Being on the same job over 30 years and nearly that many as Santa.As one passes into middle age you start to appreciate things more.I recently was asked to assist as an usher in our church I was more than happy to do so. After taking up the collection I passed by the crying room window which cast my reflection. I looked for a moment at that fellow with the grey and white hair suddenly realizing it was me. As I returned to my seat I was smiling my, wife asked me what was so funny. I whispered to her as a young boy I used to look at the old guys taking up the collection as kid we would refer to them as the old turkeys and upon seeing my reflection turns out I am one of them,and old turkey. My late father used to say when Doctors and Policemen look like kids to you your getting old. This year I will be doing Santa visits for second generation of children. Many of my family members cousins nieces and nephews started families of their own so the legacy continues.

Santa TJS

Santa TJS

 

Labor Day -Summers is Over

Well summer is about to end and fall will be upon us before we know it.I have already seen the fall decorations ,yes and even Halloween candy in the supermarket.I am already deep in the planning stages for the 2008 season with new custom suit belt and boots already in the closet waiting for the first official use. I have my first booking on November 15th an all day Christmas bizzar and craft show. I will be sitting for photos with the proceeds going to a church charity and acting as an official greeter. Should be a good time, the organizers liked my photos and admitted they had someone dress as Santa last year in a cheezy suit,their words not mine The long week end will see the traditional end of summer cook out and soon the leaves will fall and before you know the Christmas items will be on the shelves probably by late September. The anticipation is the best part.

Santa TJS

Santa TJS

 

Even Santa Claus Feels Sadness

Well, all of the things that I had planned for the past week have either been cancelled or postponed. I was hit with terrible sadness over the past week as I learned that my father, John William Johnson III, had passed away due to complications of a massive heart attack and two large strokes. He remained unconscious through it all, having suffered a fall that had sent him to the hospital to begin with. He was 54. My father was a great man in my eyes. Though he and my mother had divorced when I was four and though he and I had been semi-estranged for a number of years, I am flooded with remembrances of him. Dad was a great joker and prankster. My cousins and I were often the brunt of these things. He loved children and enjoyed being a big kid himself. He had a big heart and was always willing to give when anything he had was needed. He was first and foremost a Christian and even his last words, spoken as he briefly opened his eyes before the final coma, were "I just saw Jesus." I am honored to have called this man my father. This has been a week of much thought about my father. After talking a little to Santa Paul Sheehan via email I came to a full realization. Though Dad had never physically put on the red suit, he did wear one around his heart. His love of children, of giving, and that playful grin he was known for showed that. Also, my fondest memories with him all seem to focus around the Christmas Season. He was always jovial and always laughing, enjoying the time he had with his family as he watched with a sparkle in his eye at how they opened their gifts. I realized this week that he was one of my greatest inspirations in doing what I do. Dad first and foremost had really been the one who first taught me all about Santa Claus. Over the past few years, do to some family disagreements that would never go away, my Dad and I did not speak very often. The last conversation I had with him was very light and we both just enjoyed talking together. During that four hour conversation I was made so happy by the fact that he came right out and told me that he loved me and that he was especially proud of me for two things: my ministry in Christ and my further ministry as Santa Claus. He had seen it coming all along, the fact that I would become Santa. And he was extremely proud of me for this. When we said goodbye that day I never realized that it would be the last time we would speak. So much goes unsaid, but I know that we loved one another and that all is well now. He is with me. One thing he did love was the Coca Cola Santa. He had been after me for quite a while to look more like this icon, because it was his favorite image. So, this year I had saved my money and had a replica of this suit made in his honor. Though I had told him about it, he never got to see me in that suit. This year I will wear it for him, and I hope that through the portals of Heaven he can see me making glad the hearts of childhood. I'll wear it for Dad, my Santa.

John Johnson

John Johnson

 

Keeping Your Santa Secret

I have a 10-year old daughter who still very much believes. My son, who is 15 now, did not know that I was Santa until he was 12! I managed to keep my secret identity hidden quite easily up until last year. That's when I started ClausNET. As you can imagine I am on the site often. This has been a challenge recently as my daughter, who is very much Daddy's girl lately loves to hang on my shoulder while I am working on the computer. More than a few times, I've had to quickly collapse my browser or open a window to hide what I am working. She has caught me on ClausNET a few times and each time I've managed to successfully change the subject. Once she saw my avatar that reads "Santa RIELLY". I convinced her that it was a "joke" picture I was sending to someone. She knows that I LOVE Christmas so I think she just assumes Daddy likes to visit websites to read about Christmas and Santa Claus. As for keeping the suit and accessories hidden, that's been difficult as well. I keep my Santa suits safely tucked away in the back of my closet hidden in a garment bag. As for the boots, belts, and other accessories, I keep those in a large roller suit case that I use when I go on gigs. The more difficult part for me has been coming up with excuses as to why Dad can't be there while they visit Santa. It's a lot like Clark Kent in a way. As Lois Lane would always ponder; "How come every time Superman shows up, Clark Kent is never around?" My 15-year old is now in on the secret. Sometimes he will come along to help out so long as there is no possibility of anyone recognizing him and possibly making the connection to me. This December he will be 16 and I doubt very much that he will want to hang around me this season. But you never know. I think my daughter will make a great Elf. She, like her Dad, loves Christmas and passing out presents. She is very outgoing and engaging and laughs a lot. A perfect assistant for Santa Claus. Of course this could all change when she becomes a teenager.

Michael Rielly

Michael Rielly

 

Christmas Isn't Always In December

Ok, as I sit here today thinking of my upcoming week I cannot help but be greeted with two Santa functions that I am prepared to do. The appeal of Santa Claus at functions is beginning to extend far beyond the usual two month period here in West Virginia. It is nice for a Santa to feel needed beyond the usual Season as well. A part of this week's activities calls for me to visit our local baseball team, the West Virginia Power and attend a game in honor of the Secret Santa charity that I help with each year. Yes, I am to be in costume and ready to possibly throw out that first pitch. I am happy at the thought that I will be able to surprise so many children of all ages in a place and time where they would least expect to see Santa. This is going to prove to be a wonderful time, and I will relate more about this in my next entry. Another appointment I have is to sit for a photographer friend of mine on Thursday afternoon. He is needing a subject to shoot for a photo competition and has chosen Santa to be his subject. Can you imagine the judges and the audience when a picture of Santa is displayed. I would hope that their hearts would feel happy at the subject, not because it is of me but of what I represent. I can only wish him luck in this endeavor. I will try to post a photo or two a little later as well. I speak about all of these things because of one point, it doesn't have to be December 25 to feel like Christmas. One thing that most people forget is the fact that Christmas is one of those feelings and memories that you carry with you. As long as you keep the loving, sharing attitude that Christmas invokes it can live no matter what the calendar date. We as Santas are blessed with a mission that enables us to show this to others. As decendents of Saint Nicholas we carry this charge with us. Truly, Nicholas was a man of all seasons. He gave to all at every time of the year. Thus, we as his decendents should be ready and willing to do the same. This also means that we conduct ourselves in the appropriate manner. Too often we hear of less virtuous Santas who spoil the magic rather than create it. Whether we are to carry the torch or make a mockery of it lies upon us. Either we feel the burden to do it right or we fail. It all begins with you and me as individuals. Do we want to take on this responsibility, this power that is given to us to make glad the hearts of children? It is not a choice for the feint of heart. It is a choice that I have made and no doubt if you are reading this you have too. So, what I am trying to say is simply this, don't neglect to share the magic of Santa at all times. There are people out there that need it even a little before Christmas. They may be at a ball game, or at a photo competition, or even right in front of your very nose right now. Show them the love that only a Santa can give. If you can do this, then you share Christmas anytime and any place. Try it, it works. Wishing you much joy and glad tidings always, Santa John Johnson in West Virginia

John Johnson

John Johnson

 

Rock Climbing

As I have mentioned before I have been involved for many years with the Boy Scouts. One activity I have thoroughly enjoyed over the years has been Rock Climbing and Rappelling. Though I have done a little climbing (when I was a few pounds lighter) I have had the greatest time working with the boys teaching them to Climb and Rappel. Many times I have watched these young men conquer their fears as they have rappelled sometimes hundreds of feet. From time to time I have also had the privilege of teaching young women also. Today was a particularly different experience. My niece who is 20 asked me to take her and two of her friends climbing. Of course I was up for it. I realized today, I had never taught 20 year old women to climb. What a delightful experience. Somewhat past the silliness of being teenagers, these three ladies brought a smile to this old Santa's face as I watched them conquer their fears and climb to the top.

Santa Matty

Santa Matty

 

A Tale of two Santas

I am known as the "Santa from Santa's Village" ...but to me there is only one Santa Claus that is really Santa from Santa's Village and that man is Don Goers. An Algonquin, Illinois native, Don first came to Santa's Village in 1959 as part of the maintenance department. He started to help out "Santa" that same year by playing the part to give a day off to the main Santa. He is among the original gentlemen who played the role at the park in 1959. Goers made "Santa" his own in 1966 taking the role over fulltime that year. As Santa, he invoked a jolly demeanor that was more a reflection of his personality making him a natural for the character. His wide smile and hearty belly laugh is was his trademark. Spending twenty years at Santa's Village in the maintenance department and then as Santa, Goers saw the park grow from just a few rides and attractions to the addition of the Polar Dome and the "Coney Island " section. Each year, tens of thousands of children visited him in Santa's House and throughout the park. Leaving the park in 1979, he returned only once to be Santa again. It would be in 1994 on the 35th anniversary year of the park. I met Don Goers as a child many years before I was to t become his successor. I would not meet him again until the Christmas of 1993 at Spring Hill Mall in West Dundee, Illinois. I was the opening day shift Santa that year. Sometime during the course of that Christmas Season while out shopping, Don and his wife came up to the Santa set at the mall and started to have a small conversation with the photo operation manager. After this conversation, Don came up and introduced himself to me. Of course hearing his name I knew exactly who he was. We chatted for a minute and I asked if he would stick around a few minutes as my shift was about to end. He agreed. After I was out of costume, Don, his wife and I sat in my dressing room talking about Santa and Santa's Village. We had a lot in common. The conversation lasted about an hour when we exchanged phone numbers. Spring of 1994 saw Santa's Village celebrate 35 years of being a landmark in the Northern Fox River Valley. As the park's season progressed, I thought it would be neat if I could have Don come back for a day and be Santa once again at Santa's Village. After a few phone calls between us and he agreed. June saw Santa Don Goers return to Santa's Village. The day started off with me meeting Don in the main office. (It wasn't like he didn't know his way around.) From there I took him to the dressing room where he changed into his costume. When he walked out in full regalia as Santa, you could see a little smile beneath his moustache. Standing in front of me was the Santa that I knew as a child. Santa Don and I went out of the dressing area and over to Santa's House. I opened the door for him and for the first time in 15 years, Don was back "home" once again. He sat in Santa's chair and rapped his knuckles on the chair. It was of course the same chair that he and all who ever played the character had sat in. I left Santa's House for a few minutes and when I came back, I glanced in the window. It was strange feeling peering into the house. There was Santa, in his house, just as I remembered him as a child. Walking inside, I felt as I had just traveled back into time. Don Goers had changed himself into Santa Claus and he had change me into a little boy once again. It was magic. Don played Santa all day that day. A few newspapers came out to interview him. It was his day, but it was also my day. It is not too often that two people form different eras have a chance to interact and share some of the same experiences. Each of us got to go back in time for a brief moment. In age we are 38 years apart, but in the Santa's Village world we share so much and the same role. We will always be connected by that common bond. I still see Santa Don every now and then. I enjoy the conversations and enjoy the fact that we have the opportunity to talk about the park. Of all my days at Santa's Village, the day I got to "re-visit" with Santa is by far my most cherished.

Legendary Santa Claus

Legendary Santa Claus

 

Paddeling

Who likes to Paddle? I sure do. In my lifetime I have paddled many hundreds of miles in several different states. So on this hot summer day the twins and I returned to one of our favorite places. A small reservoir in North East Utah. The day was hot probably 85-90 down in the valley but much more comfortable at higher elevations. The water was perfect cool but not too cold. The lake was not too crowded though several others had the same Idea we had. So we paddled. We splashed and we swam. We made some memories.

Santa Matty

Santa Matty

 

Stepping Into A New Way of Thinking

Today in may ways I begin anew. My mind is clear and I focus upon the mission that I have been given to spread cheer to children of all ages. I must confess that this mission has been hampered by an unknown involvement in a conflict of pointless origin, a conflict that has riddled the Santa world. It was a conflict that I did not believe in and still do not believe in, and I pity those who are still embroiled in it. To be Santa you must have love in your heart and I found myself with no love left in my heart for a few other Santas. This is not within the scope of the Santa character, and for that I am repentant to the point that I had to break away from that group. I realize that when the Season begins I have to be a vessel of purity in childlike faith, a true heart that children of all ages can believe in. This is not a mission for the faint of heart. It is a mission for characters with heart and to spare. And so I had to remove obstacles that would keep me from being just that. So, with this being a new day I look to my Santahood with renewed vigor. I look to improving upon the foundations that I have created right here at home. I look beyond myself and my wearing of the suit into the very heart of this Santa. I find love to spare teaming for those that I have been called to bless. I look to the Season with joy and happiness, ready to be that Santa that children can find love from. For years now my wife and I have been ministering to the children in our area by bringing gifts to those less fortunate than others. In fact, my Christmas Eve is spent doing just that. I look to bettering this for the children by putting myself into stocking my workshop and becoming ready to share the love that has been given to me. But whether I am doing these deeds or just sitting at the Mall each and every child will have the complete attention of their Santa and will feel that he is real. If I can but instill more of that precious childlike faith, then I have had a successful Season. Now, with my eyes focused and my heart renewed I journey forth instilled with pure faith in the Real Reason for the Season. Won't you help me to carry on this mission that we all share as Santa? Wishing you joy and glad tidings always, Santa John Johnson in WV

John Johnson

John Johnson

 

Bleaching

I just got home from the beauty shop where I had my hair and beard bleached. It did not come out as white as it has in the past. But I am not un happy with it. I have two appearances this week. I will be attending an annual book expo in Salt Lake City Utah. Here Santa will meet book store owners who hopefully will be ordering large quantities of the latest production of The Night Before Christmas. The producers seem to think since I was the star Santa in the movie I am the right person to introduce it to the bookstore owners. Any way back to Bleaching, I have been bleached six or seven times now. Last year I went in every six to eight weeks and only had to do the roots. As you can see my beard is almost completely white now but my hair is a reddish brown color. It has been five months since my last bleaching so it was a little more work to get my hair to match my beard. I seem to miss having blond hair as it grew out, and I always felt kind of funny having darker hair on top than on the ends and sides. I also grew my hair out last year down to my shoulders. I think I'll return more frequently to the beauty shop. I kind of like this looking like Santa Claus all year long.

Santa Matty

Santa Matty

 

I have seen the Tetons

This past week I had the opportunity to drive up to Jackson Wyoming. Jackson is just south of the Grand Teton National park and only a few miles south of Yellowstone. Unlike its older brother The Grand Tetons fail to receive the attention and visitors that Yellowstone receives. However the beauty and splendor of the Tetons is more than worth the trip through the park I only wish I could have spent mort time in the park

Santa Matty

Santa Matty

 

Update on Santa Dutch's Breast Cancer Walk

OK, many of you may be asking if I'll be dressed as the Big Man during the walk... I will not be wearing my Santa costume during this walk. It's way too heavy and it probably won't fit very well in October because I'm losing some weight!! 60 Miles is a good trek. Even a watch may get to be a bit of a nuisance they told us. I can absolutely guarantee though, I'll be having a whole lot of Santa in my heart. I Promise! This experience has already changed my life! Just this morning, we had our big "Prep-Rally" and 10 mile walk. I heard of a few ladies that are walking that just recently got diagnosed with Breast Cancer. It had a profound impact on me. Just diagnosed and is still willing to walk 60 miles? Wow. Then I started seeing a few women that have lost their hair recently. Ugh. Heartbreaking, but so inpiring at the same time! These kinds of experiences make you want to walk even farther! I know there is going to be a cure someday, but we all need to pray for it and raise awareness. I just finished Randy Pausch's book, "The Last Lecture". Another powerful and inspiring book. He just passed away a little over a week ago from Pancreatic Cancer. Left behind three very small children and a courageous Wife. God Bless Them. So, a few have been emailing me about how I'm doing. I am doing incredible!! I have been logging many, many miles daily and enjoying the cool morning air during this hot summer. Walking some on the treadmill at lunch at my office, and then hitting the streets again in the evening after I get home. On weekends, I am doing some heavy duty walks of 10-15 miles each day. Needless to say, I already need a new pair of my sneakers! The walk is only 11 weeks away!! Thanks to everyone that has supported me over the course of the last few months!! I sincerely appreciate every message, email, phone call, donation, helpful hint, etc. Your encouragement keeps me going! Thanks so much and check out my Official 3Day Website listed below sponsored by The Susan G. Komen for a Cure Organization. I am so inspired - every single penny of profit received before my walk from this year's Santa season is going towards my walk. Every penny received after my walk, will go towards next year's walk! ***A HUGE THANK YOU GOES OUT TO ALL OF MY CORPORATE SPONSORS!!!*** The Bellevue Broad & Walnut Streets Philadelphia, PA RockStar Enterprises BAE Employees Staples Lansdale Mardi Gras Parade, Inc. Raj's Sunoco West Chester, PA Thanks for reading my update, Santa Dutch http://08.the3day.org/goto/dutch

Dutch Schrap

Dutch Schrap

 

Christmas In July

Well here we are July 25th, traditionally Christmas in July. Not very much like Christmas in Boston the temperatures last week were in the 90's and very humid and this week it rained and rained and stayed humid. Well while sitting in gridlock traffic coming home tonight I turned on the radio and to my surprise the oldies station was playing Christmas music. The long slow commute on a Friday night from Boston went from sheer misery to thoughts of Christmas yet to come. I listened to Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby and my mood was changed, not an easy feat with Boston drivers . Well my thoughts drifted to Santa Costumes and search for some new boots and before I knew it I was sitting in my driveway. That painful hour of the daily commute flew by and I actually wanted to sit in the car and listen to that wonderful music. Reality hit when I looked at that lawn in desperate need of cutting after the week of rain. So much for green of Christmas in July I will have to settle now for the ride on the Green John Deere Tractor.

Santa TJS

Santa TJS

 

Majority Rules

After reading the breaking news story "City Debates Ripping the Wings Off Angels", I decided to vent a little here on my blog. You can read the topic here. What is wrong with people? "It's my way or the highway!" That seems to be the attitude of some people that just seem like they don't want to get along with others. This "I'm right, you're wrong" attitude seems to be contagious. It even seems to get a little worse when Christmas is fast approaching. Communities debating whether or not to display Christmas decorations, or Christmas decorations with religious symbols. All because some "one" or a small group of the community "may" be offended by it. If the majority of the community want to decorate for a holiday and those decorations include religious symbols and that is what the majority want, then so be it. I'm sorry if it offends a few in the community but hey, majority rules. People have different beliefs. It happens. Why is it that it has become the norm for a few to tell the greater what they can do, how they are to do it, etc.? That's like saying you can't watch CSI on your tv, in your home because the show offends me. So change the channel!! Deal with it. Again, majority rules. Why are companies cancelling their company Christmas party just because 2% of their employees are Muslim? Shouldn't they worry more about offending the other 98%? As long as the 2% are allowed to celebrate their holidays, by decorating their cubicle or whatever, it shouldn't be a problem. You don't like my holiday and my decorations!? Tough! It offends you that I celebrate and decorate for my holidays!? Tough! You don't like the color of the shirt I'm wearing!? Tough! You don't like that your community decorates for holidays using religous symbols based on the majority of it's residents!? Move! Oh, but we have to be politically correct and not offend the 2%. Bah! I bet that 2% still takes the day off for Christmas because that's what the majority of the business they work for does. I bet they get paid for the holiday too. You don't hear of anyone complaining about that tho, do you? The article states: Ok. Did they take the time to think that by clipping off the angel's wings that it might offend someone else? Ok.....we don't want to offend the small percentage of our residents, so clip the wings! But what about the other residents? What about the employee who was told to do the wing clipping? It might have offended them. What if that employee had refused to clip the wings because of their religious beliefs? Would they have been fired or reprimanded? This is just past the point of complete silliness. Let the majority celebrate the way the majority want. If it offends the small percentage of the community, let them deal with it. I'm sure they will live.

Santa Bear

Santa Bear

 

Santas Behaving Badly

There used to be a show on British television years ago called Men Behaving Badly. As the title of the sitcom suggests, the basic premise of the show revolved around men who frequently engaged in childish pranks and behaving immaturely and selfishly. Today's article in the Wall Street Journal by Jim Carlton entitled: "These Santas Are Keeping a List, And Not All Have Been Nice" reminds me of that show. As I am not a member of AORBS, FORBS, or FIRBS I cannot really comment on the matter. Although through ClausNET and the CWH Santa School, I have met many a Santa and Mrs. Claus on both sides of this riff in the Santa Claus Universe -- or the "Santa Civil War" as one Santa I know puts it. There are threats of violence against fellow Santas... And the amassing of followers on both sides of the issue... Although I found the WSJ article to be on the whole fair and balanced to both sides of the issue, my fear is that the main stream media will pick up on this story. If so, we could see this story around for a few weeks. The main stream media seems to revel in anything that casts Santa Claus or CHRISTmas in a negative light. I only hope that this story will not tarnish the reputation of the hundreds of others who faithfully portray Santa and Mrs. Claus. Let's all stay positive while keeping the spirit of Christmas in our hearts and never forget the reason why we do this.

Michael Rielly

Michael Rielly

 

New Suit for Santa Rielly

Here's an update on my new suit. First off the girl making the suit decided to get engaged! That of course put my new suit on hold. As you might expect she has decided to make her own wedding gown. Thankfully she already has the pattern laid out for my suit. We are still looking at fabrics and still need a good source for fur. I will be using Santa Craig's buttons for the suit and have decided to nix the fur down the front. I think it might be too much. The most difficult part will be the custom embroidery on the sleeves, shoulder and along the bottom hem of the coat. Hopefully this week I will get to go in for another fitting.

Michael Rielly

Michael Rielly

 

Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland

I'm headed to Michigan next week and one of my first stops will of course be Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland! Sadly, Wally Bronner passed away this year. I had the distinct pleasure to meet Mr. Bronner this past October and I was honored when I was invited to the Silent Night Chapel where we sang Silent Night in the Chapel together.

Michael Rielly

Michael Rielly

 

Memories of Watseka, Illinois

I came across some old photos and articles the other day about my early years in Watseka, Illinois and playing Santa there as a teenager. They brought back quite a few memories and how lucky I am to have had these wonderful opportunities at such a young age. As some of you know I have been playing Santa in public since I was four years old, as a little Santa at the hospital where my Dad was the administrator, at local nursing homes and at school parties. By 1977 I was a six foot tall freshman in high school when the local chamber of commerce approached my father to ask if I might be interested in being the official Santa Claus for their annual Christmas Parade and Santa House promotion. My Dad wasn't sure. I was a fourteen year old kid. Sure I did this Santa thing, but this was a paid job with a lot of stuff that went with it. When my Dad talked to me about it I did not know what to think. Could I do it? What were the hours? What would my friends think? The decision was all mine to make. I thought about it a lot and finally said yes. Santa House would be open everyday from the Saturday after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve. The hours were Saturdays were 9am to 5pm, Sunday noon to 5pm and weekdays 3:30 pm until 8 pm. I would be in the Parade and have some other obligations as well. I would be paid $3.00 an hour. Even my schedule at school was change to allow me to get out early to work. As Thanksgiving approached and my big day came near I grew nervous. I almost backed out, but my desire to be a professional Santa drove me. I knew I had some experience, a whopping ten years at the time. The day of the Parade I was surprisingly relaxed. My Mom and Dad on the other had were not. I believe they knew that this might be that start of something. I had a dressing room in the basement of one of the local stores. My Dad came down to see me before the Chief of Police picked me up to drive me to the sleigh I was to ride in. Dad reminded me that this might be the first step to bigger things. Just enjoy yourself and the experience your about to have. He gave me a hug and went to find a spot on the street to watch. The Parade that day in 1977 went off without a hitch. I did eight Parades and Santa House promotions for the chamber from 1977 through 1984. From a 14 year old freshman in high school to a 22 year old young man. Those eight years in Watseka helped me with getting hired with my first job with Instant Photo Corporation of America in 1985, which led to Santa's Village in 1986. They also led me to a career as Santa. I would do a ninth Parade in Watseka in 2001. It was for my 20th high school class reunion. I have done a lot of Santa things in the last 31 years since that Christmas. But nothing will be like that first feeling of turning the corner onto the parade route in Watseka that day. Dad was right…it was the first step.

Legendary Santa Claus

Legendary Santa Claus

 

Reaching out to others

A great experience in diversity was experienced by both my self and the boys dutrin our visit to Zion National Park. Due to the current changes in economy, travel to the United States by foreign tourists has skyrocketed. We found ourselves surrounded by tourists from all over the world. As you know I am a very out going person and love to talk to people. As I began to realize how many foreign visitors we had in the park I began to formulate a plan to reach out to these people, to welcome them to our country and provide them with a positive experience. I put on my Scout Uniform (with my Kilt) and set out to shake hands and meet as many different people as I could. (The boys were also encouraged to do likewise) The following is a list of as many of the different countries as I could remember. Holland, Germany, Bavaria, Italy, Belgium, Austria, England, Scotland, Canada, Check Republic, Bulgaria, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, France, Hungary, Norway, Turkey, Netherlands, India, Korea, This was an incredible experience. Though some of these people showed little interest in this strange American and some spoke little or no English. All were welcomed with a bright smile and my own jovial personality. Many many of them were both kind and excited to meet me and visit as much as time would permit. Quite a few of them wanted either my picture or have their picture taken with me. I am quite sure most will return to their countries with a memory of our beautiful National parks and one particularly friendly American who looked like Santa Claus in a Scout Uniform. It is also important to note in seeking out these many foreign visitors I also met many hundreds of American tourists from all walks of life and all four corners of our great country. All of these folks were greeted with equal kindness and welcomed to this great State and one of our most beautiful National parks.

Santa Matty

Santa Matty

 

Most Wanted Toy for 2008?

As a Santa, I found out years ago that it is important to try to keep up with the current trends in the toy market. When talking with children about what they might like for Christmas, being able to talk to them about all the neat toys out there can help make a visit with Santa all the better. To help with this, I try to find what I can on the internet by visiting toy manufacturer's websites, watching videos from people who visited the New York Toy Fair, and reading articles from Toy magazines. Pretty much, whatever I can find. This year's New York Toy Fair had lots of new toys that were showcased. Toys based on movie heroes like Iron Man, Indiana Jones, and Speed Racer. New interactive learning toys. Just about anything you can imagine will soon be in a store near you. The one toy that really caught my eye was the new Elmo Live. Elmo Live is an extremely interactive toy. Elmo Live moves his mouth when he talks, sits, stands, crosses his legs, asks for hugs, moves his head, claps his hands, waves his arms, tells jokes, sings songs, plays games, and tells stories. Plus he reacts when he's tickled, or someone squeezes his foot, tummy, back, or nose. Elmo Live is for children 18 months and older and will cost around $66. Elmo Live should be available in October. We thought the Tickle Me Elmo was popular, but I think this one is going to blow the roof off. You can watch a video of Elmo Live at the FisherPrice website, or click here to view it. Here's another video of Elmo Live that was on YouTube: j09KLtf7EI8

Santa Bear

Santa Bear

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