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Elf Without Jingles

What it's like working as a professional Santa Claus

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Elf Without Jingles

What it's like working as a professional Santa Claus

by Rachel Gillett, Business Insider, 12-22-2016, 3:28 PM EST

EXCERPT:

BOSTON, MASS. --- Not everyone can portray Santa Claus for a living.

Sure, anyone can don a Santa hat, beard, and suit, and invite parents to plop the kids onto their lap.

But to play a convincing Santa that kids can cherish forever, and to make a living at doing it, you must literally become Santa Claus --- and that process takes a lot of work.

For Jim Manning, a full-time children's entertainer who has portrayed Santa in the Boston area for the last 13 years, learning how to become the perfect Father Christmas meant attending several Santa Claus schools, picking up a few tricks of the trade from other Santas, and learning the nuances of the job by means of trial and error.

When he's not making appearances at holiday parties dressed as the man in red, or being the guest of honor at the City of Boston Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration, he keeps his skills sharp for the other 11 months of the year as "Jungle Jim" of Jungle Jim's of Boston.

This professional Santa also understands the value of a top-notch beard --- no straggly, wispy nonsense or anything that could easily get pulled off, mind you --- and he knows, too, that keeping those kids happy means getting down to their level.

And perhaps most importantly, to truly transform yourself into the magical elf, Manning tells Business Insider, you have to really love kids --- and you have to believe that it's your job to be a beacon of joy, hope and love to them, no matter what.

Below, Jim Manning shares his personal journey toward becoming a professional Santa Claus:

SOURCE:

 

 

     

 

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Santa Marty

This is a pretty good read, I suggest you click on the SOURCE link and take a few minutes to obsorb what's being said  in the interview and how & how it's presented.

 

Good find Elf Without!

Edited by Santa Marty
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Chris Capstone

I'm always a bit uncomfortable when I see someone reveal so much of the inside baseball of what we do. Maybe it's the magician in me, but I feel like it encourages people to jump on the band wagon for the wrong reasons. It also damages the illusion or breaks the mystique in my opinion.

However, most of what he was quoted saying was somewhat accurate in a very cursory sort of way, which is what you typically get in a media article. I always feel conflicted when guys trade the publicity for a chance to peek on the inside. I'm not judging the guy. It's a free country, but I personally don't like the general public having access to the inside information.

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Santa  Kevin

I too Agree with you Chris, being a magician myself..don't like reveling those "Behind The Curtain" secrets either

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Cedar Park Santa Bob
5 hours ago, Santa Marty said:

This is a pretty good read, I suggest you click on the SOURCE link and take a few minutes to obsorb what's being said  in the interview and how & how it's presented.

I'm with you, Marty ... not really seeing the issue raised by Chris and Kris.  The article is directed at a general audience, not Santamaniacs. Doesn't break new ground but this guy seems to understand the role and puts forward a great effort and expertise to presenting Santa to different audiences. For example, I liked what he said about Santa loves everyone, so he makes sure to pay attention to the bus boy and the parking valet when he has that sort of a gig.

The man works hard ... much harder than I want to work.  According to the article, charges about $500 an event and does about 80 events ($40,000)  ..... more power to him! Like I said, he works hard and seems to do it right ... nothing he said about his work and his approach seemed out of line to me.

When I first showed up, here ... and asked for advice .. I was told "be Santa ....just be Santa" ... and that is largely what this guy is passing along.  Must be true.

Edited by Cedar Park Santa Bob
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Santa TJS

I know Jim Manning ,he is a full time children's entertainer.

 

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Santa Castor

Seems dedicated to me.  I find no fault, I sincerely doubt a core group child would ever have access to this article.

It also establishes a basis for a reasonable fee based on the dedication presented.  Too many parents believe a Santa visit fee 

should be less than what they typically pay a babysitter.

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Michael Rielly

One thing I have learned from Phil Wenz is this is NOT a young man's job. Phil has been working year round as Santa Claus since his teens. It is hard work.

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Chris Capstone

To be clear, I find no fault with this gentleman featured in the article. As I said

On 5/19/2017 at 3:53 PM, Chris Capstone said:

I'm not judging the guy.

In fact his approach to this work is very similar to mine no doubt due to the fact we are both full-time entertainers. Nor do I fault him for getting publicity. I would not turn down the chance to get interviewed by a major newspaper. I'm also not concerned about Santa age children reading the article. None of this was my concern. In fact I don't have any "beef" this gentlmen at all. As was said by another "more power to him!" I simply said I feel uncomfortable with the general public learning too much about what we do.

I'd rather the general public not know too much of the inside game, especially with respect to fees, seasonal income, where we get our stuff, etc. I'd rather it all seem a little mysterious to the general public. The truth can be a bit mudane. What they imagine is always more interesting and exciting than the reality why so why not play off that? Again, I'm a magician and I've seen the benfits of a more guarded and managed approached to providing information to the general public.

There was a great article in MAGIC magazine on this concept a number of years ago that made a strong impression on me at the time and I incorporated into my marketing with great results. It dealt with the issue of giving answers to questions like "How did you get started doing this?" or "Where did you learn how to do this, is there a school?" "Where do you get your tricks?" etc. These are common questions I've heard over and over through 37 years as a magician and 26 of those years as full-time.

In my 6 seasons as an active Santa I've been asked similar questions. If they ask when I'm in character, they just get a puzzled Santa response which is hopefully entertaining and keeps the illusion in tact, but if they ask me when I'm out of character I still try to provide them with a response that sparks their imagination and is entertaining.

I get asked these types of questions mostly when I'm out of character as I arrive at events out of Santa to set up and am also out of Santa after the event to break evrything down and pack. It's usually after the event that the questions come up. They have just experienced it all and now they are intrigued and curious which results in the questions.

Believe me, when they ask they are hoping for an interesting and entertaining answer that meets or exceeds what they imagine rather than the truth which is rather mudane and will fall short of what they imagine.

This is why so many media outlets have done stories on the CWH school. It has a long and storied history, it takes place in this cool Santa house (it actually has a physical location) and it seems like there must be some secret and mysterious stuff going on in there. It has a mystique that makes for a great media story. The CWH school will do well to carefully manage that image and keep the mystique going in the minds of the general public.

What we do is magic! If we are doing it right it should be fascinating to the general public. Our ways should seem mysterious and secretive to the general public. Even when out of character we should seem to be interesting to people. They should wonder and imagine what it's like to be us and do what we do. It's fine to give interviews or answer curious client questions, but I prefer to do so in a way that feeds the imagination and keeps the mystery of it all.

Edited by Chris Capstone
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Santa  Kevin

Yeppers! That's what I'm talking about... Thanks Chris 

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Elf Without Jingles
12 hours ago, Michael Rielly said:

One thing I have learned from Phil Wenz is this is NOT a young man's job. Phil has been working year round as Santa Claus since his teens. It is hard work.

I thought Phil had started his journey to becoming Santa when he was just four years old. I did, after all, read his backstory --- and, as you can imagine, I've learned quite a lot from it. He is, and I know you'll all agree with me, one of the true giants of the Kringleverse. (This coming from me, one of the younger whippersnappers of Santa-dom.) 

Anyway, Jim Manning has a tremendous backstory, and I share it because, as I have believed for many years, every person has a story worth sharing. All we need to do is take the time to listen. 

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Michael Rielly
On 5/20/2017 at 11:28 AM, Elf Without Jingles said:

I thought Phil had started his journey to becoming Santa when he was just four years old. I did, after all, read his backstory --- and, as you can imagine, I've learned quite a lot from it. He is, and I know you'll all agree with me, one of the true giants of the Kringleverse. (This coming from me, one of the younger whippersnappers of Santa-dom.) 

Anyway, Jim Manning has a tremendous backstory, and I share it because, as I have believed for many years, every person has a story worth sharing. All we need to do is take the time to listen. 

Phil's first appearance as Santa Claus was at the age of 4. But it wasn't until he was 16 that he was actually working as Santa Claus.

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Elf Without Jingles

That's right, Michael. Often times, I tend to forget about those more really important milestones of Phil's backstory.

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