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  1. 6 points
    Seeking recognition is a downward path for a legend who performs his tasks in the veil of night. Recently, a fellow portrayer of Santa posted an image on Facebook that they constructed to look like a magazine cover with him on it and several story snips like many publications have on their covers. You may have seen it if they are your friend on Facebook. It looks okay. The composition is good, but the rendering when uploading it to Facebook became distorted it and it is quite pixelated when you look at it from a development standpoint. What got my goat was his choice of accompanied text, “Finally got a little recognition…”. Let me say that his post was all in jest, I am certain. This man is one of the kindest, gentlest, giving souls you will come across. I love him as a brother. Yet his unintended incursion on the spirit of the Claus legend got me more than a little flustered. And I know it would be last thing he would want anyone to get from this posting. If you are in this to seek recognition, get out. Plain and simple. It’s the last thing that the real Santa Claus would have wanted. It’s the antithesis of St. Nicholas, for whom Santa is mostly based. More and more, I see the ego of man rearing its ugly head in the Claus community. And this comes from one of the vainest individuals you would ever loath to meet. My mother, rest her soul, would chuckle and get all sorts of entertainment over my time in front of the mirror as a youth. As my hair fell out and turned grey and I stated portraying Santa, it became less of an issue of ego and more of an asset to putting forward the best portrayal I know how. And yet attention to Felix Estridge is the last thing I want. Last year, I was elected as President and Executive Director of the Board for Lone Star Santas Charities, Inc.® I tried to refuse but the Board felt it was best moving forward with the group as the current President & Executive Director was retiring from guiding the organization. I still felt awkward in that it might bring me some kind of recognition that I did not ultimately want. But, for the good of the organization and at their begging, I accepted. When asked for my name after having had news footage or news photos shot of me as Santa, I tell them “Kris Kringle” and wait for the response. I will never give my real name unless I am forced to do so, and, even then, I have been known to refuse. I always tell them that the magic for people remains in the mystery of the legend of Santa Claus. They then understand. And all who portray him should strive to keep that magic alive. As I recently defended, I am no one’s arbiter, police, or any authoritarian on portraying Santa. I merely offer this perspective as a personal opinion from simple observation over time. I am less learned than many, many others. I just happen to be passionate about this issue. I will never give up trying to protect the legend. Do no harm to the legend.
  2. 5 points
    This is awesome to share, @Felix Estridge! Thanks for the heads up! I've spent a lot of time watching YouTubed home videos of the "interview" process with Santa, taking toy requests with young ones, (I know, I'm a little obsessed! Admitting is the first step to recovery...) and so many times you'll hear a child ask for something and the Santa will reply, "What is that?" or "Oh, okay." BUT if you just take 10 seconds to converse with the child about their toy (remember, this is something they are very passionate about) it takes a normal interaction to an extraordinary and memorable experience. For example, "Oh, yes! I just love those Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Which one is your favorite? (response) Of course, Michelangelo! I love his orange mask... and boy, can he sure eat some pizza. Can I tell you a secret? One of my favorite new things to do is eating pizza flavored cookies! Isn't that silly?!" Not only will you get a fun laugh, but you'll have empowered the child, and then can steer the conversation back to your next beat or moment. When we spend the time preparing, the benefits that our visits will reap are immeasurably rewarding!
  3. 4 points
    I'm looking forward to this movie. Charles Dickens had a very interesting life and the origins of his Christmas Carol and other Christmas novellas are fascinating.
  4. 4 points
    James D. Rielly Foundation Receives 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Status Rhode Island based charity helps the children and families of veterans, active military, and first responders. Providence, RI (PRWEB) August 29, 2017 The James D. Rielly Foundation is proud to announce that it has been formerly granted tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code. Contributions donated to the James D. Rielly Foundation are fully tax-deductible retroactive to the founding of the organization. The James D. Rielly Foundation is also now eligible to apply for government and foundation grants, which will further broaden its access to resources and strengthen its ability to serve the members of the community. Funded entirely by private donations, The James D. Rielly Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, volunteer organization founded by Michael Rielly to honor the life and legacy of his grandfather, James D Rielly. The Foundation provides charitable support to the children and families of veterans, active military, and first responders. Born in 1908, James (Jim) D. Rielly was a lifelong resident of Bristol Rhode Island and well known throughout New England for his kindness, generosity, and countless charitable acts. Over the course of his lifetime, Jim Rielly was the recipient of numerous awards and received letters of recognition from celebrities and dignitaries from all over the world; Eleanor Roosevelt, Senators Theodore Francis Green, Claiborne Pell, and John Chafee, Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, and even his Holiness, Pope John Paul II, just to name a few. Jim Rielly was best known as Rhode Island’s own “Santa Claus”, where he portrayed the role of Jolly Old St. Nick for over 60 years. Much of his time in the red suit was spent bringing joy to the children and families of servicemen and women and first responders. “In honor of my grandfather’s dedication to the community and those less fortunate, we established the James D. Rielly Foundation in his name”, stated Michael Rielly, James D. Rielly Foundation President. “Our mission is to preserve his legacy by providing charitable support to the children and the families of military and first responders hindered by economic status, physical or mental challenges.” The IRS letter granting James D. Rielly Foundation its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status is available upon request. For donation inquiries, please contact info(at)jdrfoundation(dot)org or visit http://www.jdrfoundation.org. About James D. Rielly Foundation, Inc. The James D. Rielly Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, organized exclusively for charitable, religious, fraternal organizations, and educational purposes, including, the distribution of funds primarily to organizations that qualify as exempt organizations under 501(c)(3). The James D. Rielly Foundation believes in giving back to the community both locally and nationally. We believe helping those in need will inspire others to do the same and in turn, improve the quality of life for all. To learn more, visit: www.jdrfoundation.org. Follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn. SOURCE: http://www.prweb.com/releases/prweb14586186.htm
  5. 4 points
    Dear Santa Edson, Like you, I and my family also serve the Lord. I love opportunities to tell others about our Lord and His gift to us. Many many years ago, I recall thinking similar things: "Why so early" or "Christmas is so commercial." Which many retailers do make it. But in our fast hurry up and got to have it now world, even the very act of purchasing Christmas cards or looking at decorations causes us to slow down and think of others we want to reconnect with, or the celebrations that will soon be upon us. Personally, I would rather be working toward the holidays rather than wait till the last minute to get things done. It brings a great peace and joy to spread it out over four months, or even more. Santa Kevin Haislip
  6. 3 points
    OL Santa, Thanks for adding another perspective to this discussion. There are many ways to enjoy our pursuits along the pathway of Christmas. Many have said, we need to be able to adapt to an ever changing environment, and some how as an industry, we seem to be able to do just that. Many of the things OL Santa mentioned are exactly what drives guys and gals to the choices they make. We gravitate to where we feel the most comfortable, wether that be a mall, strictly residential visits, all commercial, or a mixture. Do what works for you, and what makes you the happiest. Do that, and do it well, and you would be hard pressed to have an unsuccessful season. Perspectives: We all have them, along with our preconceived notions of the many different venues available. The question is, what is the best one for us? If we are NOT enjoying what and how we perform as Christmas enthusiasts, we are not going to be very convincing. We will not be able to extend that "one more season" of belief a child has, the little extension of innocence we all had when we grew up. We all have our pursuits, and many of us are set in our ways. We can become intrenched, and very opinionated as to what is good, bad, or indifferent. Many things seem to divide us as a group; beards, suit fabric, color, buttons, belts, bells, leather, make up, singing, telling stories, doing magic... the list is pretty long for a group of guys and gals that are really quite focused in overall direction. So perspectives are important, but so is the realization that ours is not the only one. We are all in this together.
  7. 3 points
    Charisse Jones, USA TODAY Wednesday, 06-Sep-17 04:07:42 PDT Walmart says these 25 toys will rule the holidays Parents who came up short hunting for a Hatchimal, the hottest toy of the last holiday season, are about to get a second chance. A newer version of the toy egg that hatches a host of magical creatures is expected to be in-demand again this year when it comes to gifts under the holiday tree, says Walmart in making its predictions for the top 25 toy picks for 2017. ... Ultimately, holiday shoppers will have more than 1,000 new toys from which to choose. "This list is just beginning,'' says Kehoe. "It doesn't stop until the doors close on Christmas Eve.'' A few of Walmart's choices were in line with the predictions of Amazon, which for the first time released its own top 25 holiday toy picks last week. Both retailers included the Cars 3 Ultimate Florida Speedway and Paw Patrol My Size Lookout Tower. Walmart's Top 25 Picks o Hatchimals Surprise (*Coming soon, details to be released on Oct. 6) o Fingerlings o littleBits Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit o Num Noms Nail Polish Maker o FurReal Friends Roarin’ Tyler The Playful Tiger o Barbie DreamHorse and Doll o Fisher-Price Zoom ’n Crawl Monster o L.O.L. Surprise Fizz Factory o Soggy Doggy Board Game o Mayka Toy Block Tape o Frozen Sleigh (*Walmart exclusive) o Adventure Force Light Command Light-Up Motorized Blaster (*Walmart exclusive) o Monster Jam Grave Digger (*Walmart exclusive) o Huffy Electric Green Machine Trike o Nerf Rival Nemesis MXVII-10K o RECOIL Starter Set o New Bright Radio Control Tumblebee o VTech Pop-a-Balls Drop and Pop Ball Pit (*Walmart exclusive) o Radio Control DashCam (*Walmart exclusive) o Dusty the Super Duper Garbage Truck o Imaginext DC Super Friends Batman Batbot Xtreme o Paw Patrol My Size Lookout Tower o Disney/Pixar Cars 3 Ultimate Florida Speedway o Mickey and the Roadster Racers Transforming Hot Rod Mickey o Disney Junior Doc McStuffins Baby All in One Nursery SOURCE
  8. 3 points
    Thanks Felix...great resource! A little improv trick...if you have trouble remembering games and toys and such. If you get a request or a child starts talking about a toy that you are not familiar with, but you still want to interact with them on the subject, try turning the question around. "What's your favorite thing about the New Bright Radio Control Tumblebee?" or "The elves love to play Soggy Doggy Board Game after work...why do they like it so much?" This gets them talking about something they are interested in and you get information without making it seem like you didn't know about the toy. I do a similar thing when kids ask me if I know their name, and I sometimes answer "Of course I do, but I forget how to spell it". They spell their name for me and I say "That's right Jeffery...you're such a good speller" and they smile and forget that they asked the question first.
  9. 3 points
    Congratulations! As soon as I have a few hours, I will read it!
  10. 3 points
    My Freckles Anytime you’re in the big chair and have children climbing up and down over your lap all day, you can get pretty tired or you can simply have a ball. Well last night after I had gotten into bed, my mind reflected back to an incident that occurred with a little boy in the first grade a couple of years ago. It probably sounded something like this to his Mom who was sitting in one of the chairs provided by the Shopping Center to accommodate parents while waiting their child visits with Santa. Santa: “Well hello my little man, how are you today?” Boy: “Awh, I’m okay I guess,” replied the youngster. Santa: “Well, you certainly don’t sound very happy about it, so what’s the problem?” Boy: “Nothin’, I’m just not happy,” was the reply. Santa: “You have every reason in the world to be happy, what with Christmas just being a few days away, and being out of school for a couple of weeks, and a big dinner on . Christmas day and the toys and all, why aren’t you happy?” Boy: “Oh, you wouldn’t understand,” he said. Santa: “Well, you know the place to start is always at the beginning, right?” was my reply. Boy: “I’d just rather not talk about it,” he said. Santa: “You do know there are other children waiting, so we need to get started on what it is that you want for Christmas pretty quick,” I said. Boy: In a much quieter voice than before he said “It’s just these freckles.” Santa: “Well what’s wrong with your freckles…they look just fine to me. They go real well with that sandy colored hair you got that’s combed so nicely,” I replied. Boy: In the same subdued voice the he said, “The kids all tease me about these freckles.” Santa: “Well I suppose that’s because they aren’t fortunate enough to have any of their own freckles,” I said. Boy: The youngster gave me a questioning look and said, “Fortunate?” Santa: “Oh, sure. Lots of famous people have had freckles. Why there have been Kings and Queens and Presidents and Generals and Movie Stars and lots of other famous people from all walks of life. Many have had freckles,” was my reply. Boy: A smile began to appear on his face and then he asked, “Santa, just name me one real person that you know who has freckles?” Santa: “What do you want to know that for,” I asked. Boy: “I wanta’ be able to name somebody that they know about to prove it to ‘em,” was his immediate reply. Santa: My answer to his question brought a full grin to the boys face as I said, “Well, what would you think if I told you that I have freckles, and so does Mrs. Claus. Boy: Looking intently into my face he said, “I don’t see any freckles!” Santa: With a big grin, I pulled up one fur cuff and then the other as he scanned my forearms and then he began rubbing them. As he gazed at my LIVER SPOTS . (from aging…I’ll be 86 in April), I looked at his Mom as she covered her smile with her hands. Then I told him, You see, as people get old up at the North Pole, that . sometimes their skin stretches and sags and that’s what happened to me.” Boy: “Wow! Wait ‘til the other kids hear about all those famous people with freckles,” he exclaimed. The boy, with a huge grin on his face, leaped off my lap, rushed over to Santa’s Toy Boxes, picked out the toy he wanted as his Mother paid for the photo’s. Then, together, hand in hand they walked out of Santa Land with big smiles on their faces. As a Side Note; That same year after that occurrence, several children asked if they could see “The freckles on my arms.” Actually, I believe there may have some bullting going on because the boys mom, as she got up to leave grabbed my arm and said, "Thank you Santa. That's been something that's been bothering him every since school started. We're new to this school District this year!" Does anyone ever ask you if being a Santa is fun? Ol’ Santa (True Story!)
  11. 3 points
    It Happened One Christmas Eve by Santa Kevin Haislip You ever had one of those times when you just had to laugh at yourself? Even Santa does, occasionally! It was early Christmas Eve this past year and I was out making last minute visits to families before they turned in for the night. It would be several hours before I returned to their homes to make my secret stops. For now, I was just dropping by for a short visit to the home of a family that requested I come by at 6:30, around dinner time, to see their 3 daughters. It was pretty cold and dark out that evening. Six inches of newly fallen snow covered the ground, but the lane where they lived was all lit up with Christmas displays. The muffled laughter from children could be heard up the street from one of the houses that looked like they were having a big Christmas party. As I looked for their house, I quickly realized that many if not most of the houses did not have addresses on them that were visible. I say this so that you know how important this is. You don't want Santa taking your presents to someone else's house, do you? But here I was, looking for the right address so I could make my visit to these three girls. I had called ahead just a few minutes earlier and told Mom I was in the neighborhood and would be coming in directly. She informed me she had left the front door unlocked and for me to come on in. My GPS guided me to the house address, I collected my bag, tossed it over my shoulder and walked to the front door. As promised, the door was unlocked. As I stepped through, I was warmly greeted by a spectacular Christmas display: a beautifully decorated tree and mantle and smells of gingerbread and mince filled the house. Lights and candles shown brightly and Christmas music played softly in the background. I let out a loud chuckle of "Ho Ho Ho" and walked on through to the back of the house where the family all seemed to be. The children's eyes popped wide open with glee and they jumped up from their play and ran over to me, hugging me as tight as their little arms could. Dad was sitting comfortably over by the window reading from a large book, but when I came in, he sat up with a most puzzled expression. Mom was also sitting on the couch, and quickly got up and came over to greet me. She was also clearly very surprised by my visit. Meanwhile the children could not be more delighted. All three of them talking at once as the volume increased to they could be heard over the others. I bent down to talk with them eye to eye, and tried as I might to answer all their questions: Did I bring their presents right now? Can we open them right now Mom? Are you still going to come back later with more presents? Do you like cookies? Where are your reindeer? and so on. This was such an unexpected surprise, they could not have been more delighted! As I talked with the children, something seemed a little off. The expressions of the parents remained quizzical and a bit guarded as they watched. Another thing that was odd was Mom, who had called me and asked me to come by, said she had three daughters. Yet in front of me were two young boys and a slightly older girl. But for all that seemed a little odd to me, I wanted to make sure these children had a visit they would not forget. So I continued talking with them for a few more minutes, then turned to Mom and asked about her other 2 daughters. She answered that she and her husband had two sons and a daughter. "Well," I said letting out a sigh and a big grin, "What a magical night! I have had such a wonderful time coming by to visit you. I don't think I will forget this evening for many many years, I've had such a fun time seeing you." "But you know, Christmas Eve is a very busy night for Santa," I told them as I raised my brows and nodded my head. "As much as I would love to stay here with you, I have many more children and families I must visit before I begin my mid-night rounds." With that, I picked up by bag and stood up. I chuckled a bit and turned to the three children. "Now you know you must go to bed early tonight and fall fast asleep. I cannot come by later if any of you are awake and looking out for me!" Mom mouthed a silent 'thank you' but Dad still looked very puzzled. And with a little bit louder chuckle, I turned and headed for the door with all three children close behind asking even more questions. I hugged them and told them I loved them. Then I was out the door and down the walk to find the correct address. I was already over 20 minutes late to visit the three girls. As I was about to turn the corner at the end of their drive, the oldest boy shouted out, "Where is your sleigh Santa?" With that, I heard the first words of Dad, "Come back in here son!" Then I heard the door shut and the lock bolted. I've often wondered what Mom and Dad talked about that night. Was this a gift from someone? Was it the Pedersons, or the Johnsons? Who? Should we have called the police? Was it a wrong address? I would have loved to be a fly on their wall that night! I was entirely right about one thing: I would not forget what happened this Christmas Eve. I will be laughing about this for a very long time.
  12. 2 points
    Ol Santa, That works well where you live in a large metro area like Dallas / Fort Worth. But you would starve to death in my rural (translated: poor) county of 35,000 people spread out over 887 square miles. I tried it for 12 years before I gave up and went to work as a mall Santa. I try to land work in a metro area so that I can do home visits when not in the chair and thereby add extra income. But as I see it mall work is my best option. Just like our boots and suits, one size doesn't fit all!!!!
  13. 2 points
    HERE, HERE, HERE... ...Ol' Santa here. My take away here is simply this. The Photo Companies are just that. They may be individuals or big company's with a Board of Directors...but they're in it to make a buck...in fact lots of bucks. That means you have two choices. (1) - You can either join with them and play the game by their rules. Or, (2) - you can do as I have and go into business for yourself and make up your own rules. In my case, there are two sources of income. That which the Shopping Center Pays me. It's not one of those huge enclosed Malls ...but it does have 85 merchants situated in a drive-up format. The other is the money taken in for the low cost Photo's we take. The Photo Money ($15.for a 4" X 6" up to $25. for an 8" X 10") That and my horly rate amounts to about $30,000.00 to $35,000.00 annually. That's not bad for about 150 to 175 hours sitting in a comfortable chair talking to children...who I might add, come to see me. There's no chaising around trying to get two or three gigs a day, or getting dressed and undressed again several times a day. I enjoy my hours with the kids...in fact, it's the highlight of my year! Afterall, I am retired and Uncle Sam puts a regular deposit in my bank account. The difference is that I keep only the hourly rate to offset my costs and to cover the cost of several trips the "Bride" and I take each "off season." as well as for some Cleaning, Gasoline back and forth from the Shopping Center, meals etc. Now the Photo money goes to a well respected Texas Children's Charity. That's MY choice. They use it for a good cause. But if you were to include with your offer to be a Shopping Center's Santa and bring in customer Traffic the fact that you'd keep the Photo money, they'd probably jump at that! The way we operate is the same way it was set up 16 years ago. The shopping center provides everything. In return; their merchants are happy; the customer traffic goes way up and the Center is happy. The Children' Charity...a Wish with Wings (www.awishwithwings.org) is happy since they receive $20,000.00 to $25,000.00 each year. The parents of my visitors get to see their children receive an old fashion Christmas experience and they're happy. I receive the joy of each child's visit; enough cash to pay for a couple of trips each year and enough to more than cover my expenses. Like I've been saying fellas for the past 4 years, go into business for yourself. It's the only way to go. Holler if you need help! I'll help you get started. OL' SANTA
  14. 2 points
    Backlash Building Against The Man Who Invented Christmas ChristmasWeekly.com September 7, 2017 EXCERPT: There is a new Christmas movie headed to theaters this Christmas about Charles Dickens about his creation of A Christmas Carol and Christmas purists hate it. Already. The film has a stellar cast that features the dreamy-eyed Dan Stevens as Dickens and the legendary Christopher Plummer as Scrooge. Here is the trailer: “This is a very presumptuous film,” said Christmas fan and would-be film critic, Arnold Yates, via MSN. “Charles Dickens was great but he certainly didn’t invent Christmas. Bah Humbug!” That sentiment is growing online as the preview makes the rounds. The movie purports to tell the story of the inspiration Dickens received in writing A Christmas Carol, a creation that supposedly saved his writing career. The bigger point seems to be the idea that because Dicken’s short story was so well received it also somehow saved Christmas in the process. Indeed, history recounts the surge in popularity Christmas enjoyed from 1843 forward in secular culture, both in England and in the United States. From that point forward society grew in appreciation of everything from Santa Claus to Christmas trees. But had that train already left the station when Dickens climbed aboard it? Indeed, that is true as well. Some 20 years previous to A Christmas Carol the poem A Visit from St. Nicholas was published and was already running on a traditional schedule every holiday season. Though few governments around the world recognized Christmas as a legal holiday it was widely celebrated faithfully in Christian churches and had been for centuries. We know enough of history for centuries before Dickens to know that while Christmas took a hit here and there it never suffered for want of attention. Many of the famous in history, from Christopher Columbus to George Washington and beyond famously celebrated Christmas and there is no denying it. This is what has so many Christmas fans upset, their love for Dickens notwithstanding. This movie, some contend, is just Hollywood’s way of promoting the secular Christmas and demeaning those who might have a spiritual tie to the season — people, indeed, like Dickens himself. SOURCE: https://christmasweekly.com/backlash-building-man-invented-christmas/
  15. 2 points
    Each month, our Featured Member section profiles a ClausNet member. Members are chosen totally at random by myself and the staff. Once selected as Featured Member of the Month, we interview the candidate and post the interview here. This is a great way to get to know your fellow ClausNet members! We are happy to announce our ClausNet Featured Member of the month for September 2017 is Schwindy! Schwindy Featured ClausNet Member - September 2017 Profile: Schwindy Real Name: Tom Location: Northampton Borough, Pennsylvania USA ClausNet member since: 15 January 2015 Community Reputation (as of today): 1,429 – Darn Near Santa Himself! Our featured member this month joined the ClausNet Community back in 2015. Since then he has been an active contributor. Santa Tom, AKA Schwindy, has been portraying Santa Claus since 1998. I always look forward to putting together these interviews. This interview was particularly fun for me. It is also the longest interview we have ever done. Be sure to set aside some time to read Schwindy’s story. We caught up with Schwindy a few days ago, and here is what he had to say... ClausNet: How long have you been portraying Santa Claus and how did you get started? Schwindy: "I started in 1998 and the wife was quick to follow one year later. I was to be the uncle playing for his younger brother’s first son. Shane got so scared at the big guy in red I was devastated. I made the number one mistake. I broke character to console him. So I was busted by a 5 or 6 year old way back when! We took our show on the road to ‘play’ for our friends and other families. In October 2007 it was confirmed that my right eye optic neuritis was due to Multiple Sclerosis (MS). We took a long break after that from the Clauses. Then, in 2012 I ended up going out of work because of the MS. In 2014 I just got sick and tired of being sick with MS. I told Kathy I wanted and needed to get back to doing it, even if it wipes me out for a week later. With the help of the cooling vest (2015) as well as going from the jacket to a shirt and vest type combo (2016) it’s made our portrayal a lot easier for me and we do our very best for a couple of amateur Clauses." ClausNet: What or who are your influences on your portrayal of Santa Claus? Schwindy: "From 1974 to about 1979 or 1980, Allentown center city had a Hess Brother’s Department store and that man was Our Santa! I don’t know his name. Of course ClausNet has been a huge influence for me since January 15, 2015." ClausNet: What do you enjoy most about being Santa Claus? Schwindy: "We enjoy the reactions from both the parents and children when we walk into their homes. The children are always amazed because we seem to know everything that is going on with the family goings and comings." ClausNet: What is your most memorable visit? Schwindy: " We have two. The Madden family visit is one we will never forget. Their son Patrick Madden who is now 21 plus. When he was 8 years old it was the most memorable visit we had. It was my second year of visits and Kathy’s first. Patrick answered the door and let us in. From the time he lets us in for about a whole minute, he ran around the front room in a circle, clapping his hands and yelling ‘I can’t believe you brought Mrs. Claus! It’s Santa! It’s Santa and Mrs. Claus!’ Christmas Day 2016. Kathleen and I this past Christmas were asked to be the Allentown Soup Kitchen Santa and Mrs. Claus. The people loved us! They welcomed us and they were so full of the Christmas magic we all hope to encounter at least once during the Christmas Season!" ClausNet: Do you have a favorite gig? Schwindy: "I have two. My first one I lost because we moved. It was for two very short years a long time ago. Our parish Priest knew I played and asked me to do what I was telling him I saw as an 8 or 9 year old. At the 5:00 Christmas Eve Mass (also known as the Children’s Mass) Santa was to come down the aisle after communion was over. Everyone was sitting in their seats. I then slowly walked up the main aisle and did the ‘slowly approaching to the Nativity scene’. Almost nervous like the closer I got. I rolled up my hat in my hands and even slower now as I could easily see the huge statue of Jesus. I stepped to the crib. I knelt and blessed myself, and then with folded hands I bowed my head. After a little bit of time in prayer, I blessed myself once again and got up and walked out the side door back into the rectory where I changed back to Schwindy. It truly was the greatest honor I have ever had as Santa. I hope to be able to do this one more time during a children’s Mass, as it is very exciting when you know the children are watching so intently. Teaching without a word ever spoken is powerful stuff. 2016, the Allentown Soup Kitchen is so close I can’t call it second! This is what we do together as a husband and wife on Christmas Day. What could be better? We see all the people who really have the Spirit of Christmas as well as the LOVE of Christmas coming out of their pores. There is nothing like it, the feelings we have as well as the love you feel. Even though the MS did kick in after it was all over, I was on such a high for hours after we were finished. I can’t wait for this year 2017." ClausNet: What is your dream gig? Schwindy: "Okay, this is my crazy idea / dream gig. First I would need to hit the lottery for a ridiculous amount of cash -- like Bruce Wayne type of cash. I would purchase a huge lot of land and build a campus for children housing as well as schooling. K-12. I would be the children’s Santa for the next few years. I would be able to hand pick the next Santa and Mrs. Claus from all the employees we would have on-site as well as the friends I currently have. One would think I should be able to find two worthy as well as two who would want the job. I would make sure they have already been involved with ClausNet of course. It would be a blast to watch from start to completion what we would be able to accomplish. For any child who doesn’t get adopted by the age of 16-1/2 I would do the honors. Then to leave it all into one of the children’s hands who knew directly how and what would need to be done to keep it running. I just hope I would choose wisely so everything could still carry on. We would have the hugest Schwindy family. Even those who would get adopted throughout the years and decades, they all would be asked back for a huge Christmas dinner as well as all the holidays and summertime fair like picnics. From that point forward the possibilities would be endless. I could be like Walt Disney, Bruce Wayne, or just myself and be a pioneer for the orphanage, children, as well as the school. With new traditions as well as making sure it all would get passed down as the decades would roll on. And before Eileen could say anything, I might as well have a sewing and seamstress tailoring school. Then Santa and the Mrs., would always have newer threads for all their needs. Something like that, to me, that type of thing would get paid forward for decades to come. That is A DREAM GIG!" ClausNet: What keeps you busy when you are not being Santa? Schwindy: "I run the help ministry at our church. My function is to contact the volunteers to find rides for our parishioners to doctor appointments, grocery store, hair dresser, etc. I am also a driver as well. One of the things that keep me busy is planting a flower as well as a vegetable garden each summer. Nothing beats the taste of homegrown vegetables. This year I redid our water harvesting system to eliminate the use of hose water. One of the challenges that I faced was searching the Internet to find the right diverter for the downspout. I also raised the base of the lower barrel so I could get the watering can under it with greater ease this year. The two-55 gallon drums in the picture where a hideous blue color that I sanded and painted brown to blend in with the brick color on the house. The top barrel has a 4” toilet flange opening with typical window screening doubled over and used as a filter for the rain water. The barrels when empty can be filled within 15 to 20 minutes of a steady rainfall." ClausNet: What are your hobbies / interests? Schwindy: "I love baseball-the game inside the game. Another interest of mine is Papier Mache. This is a fairly new hobby that I have dabbled in. The wife and I made papier mache scary pumpkins for Halloween. I’d like to attempt making a papier mache angel for our outdoor Nativity as well as a kneeling Santa for the 2018 season. As long as my MS symptoms are tolerable, I enjoy decorating our house for Halloween and Christmas. In 2003, we entered our house in a Christmas decorating contest in Northampton Borough. We won first place and were given the plaque pictured above. I still continue to decorate, but I can’t go as wild due to the MS. I always try to remember that what goes up must come down and be packed away." ClausNet: What is your favorite color? Schwindy: "Always has been and always will be red." ClausNet: What is your favorite food? Schwindy: "Filet mignon on the grill (medium), Idaho double baked potato, green bean casserole, top it all off with a slice of apple crumb pie with or without ice cream and I just had my last supper." ClausNet: Coke or Pepsi? Schwindy: "I was a huge Coca Cola fan until they introduced the ‘new coke’ in 1985. Ever since then it has be Pepsi. My favorite beverage is an Arnold Palmer. (RIP Mr. Palmer)." ClausNet: What is your favorite cookie? Schwindy: "I love the many different answers to this question from the previous members of the month. Mine is quite simple; sugar cookie then chocolate chip." ClausNet: What is your favorite movie? Schwindy: "I have too many to list. I love comedies as it helps to lighten one’s day." ClausNet: Do you have a favorite Christmas movie? Schwindy: "A Christmas Story, Elf, and I feel IMHO everyone should watch ‘It’s a wonderful Life’ at least once during the season! I record them all and then watch them numerous times throughout the season without the wife so she doesn’t have to hear me laughing like I have never seen the movie before." ClausNet: What is your favorite Christmas song? Schwindy: "As a child, I enjoyed all the songs on Bing Crosby’s Merry Christmas album. As an adult, my favorite song is Mary Did You Know performed by Peter Hollens. Check it out on YouTube! He is a very talented individual." ClausNet: What was the last book that you read? Schwindy: "Angels & Devils by Joan Carroll Cruz." ClausNet: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Schwindy: "If I could go back to being 18, I had a calling that I ignored about three decades ago to become a Roman Catholic Priest. I regret dismissing the signs and pursuing my own avenue instead of truly listening and I should have prayed about it. As a man who is now 48 years old, it would be a blast to be a Walt Disney World Imagineer. That would be so much fun as well as being able to push the limits to ‘what if’ all day long and getting paid for it! The resources they have at hand are second to none!" ClausNet: What profession would you not like to attempt? Schwindy: "Being a family doctor; too many questions due to situations where people need and want answers that even they (doctors) can’t answer. " ClausNet: What were some of your favorite toys as a child? Schwindy: "Legos, AFX and or Tyco slotted race track, as well as the electronic football and baseball games. Growing up in the city, I lived in the middle of the block in a row home. The entire street was lined by row homes and cars on both sides of the street. So the NERF Ball was KING! Yet we still managed to get into trouble." ClausNet: What is your most memorable experience of Santa while growing up? Schwindy: "Sorry no photo for this and I looked long and hard for a photo of Hess’s Fourth floor hallway as well as the Fourth floor. From the age of 4-9 my mother would drive my brother and me into center city Allentown to Hess Brothers department store. They had the only parking deck around. My brother and I would find it such a thrill when mom would drive in and head straight to the fourth floor on any day of the year. The fourth floor was the toy department of Hess’s 11 months out of the year. After Thanksgiving it was transformed by Santa or so we thought. Do you remember the days when businesses were closed all day on Thanksgiving? Anyway, on Black Friday the fourth floor would turn into the greatest Christmas display ever! We remembered from years past how Santa would make the fourth floor look the only way we could imagine the North Pole must have looked. After mom parked the car we would run to the first set of double doors. We could hardly wait to see what was on the other side! We knew there was always a hallway, but every year Santa decorated that hallway differently each and every year! How did it look this year was always the question! That was the longest hallway ever (25 feet long by about 8 feet wide)! This walkway was for the shear purpose to get one from the parking deck and into the store. Every floor had the same style boxed hallway made of concrete and a drop ceiling with fluorescent lights. But the fourth floor was all Santa’s after Thanksgiving. Each and every year he would transform that simple hallway into a Christmas display that would just ooh and awe us! Transformed were the cement floor and walls with all the newest as well as the most popular toys of the current season. The toys would all be set up as if they were being played with. All toys were out of the boxes and placed to look like they were in action sitting on clouds (or Cotton) but looked like snow (still cotton) that never melted! Toys and more toys all throughout that long stretch of 25 feet of hallway. Slinkys and Rubik cubes piled high to the ceiling some years. G. I. Joe’s set up to look like he was scaling the enemy wall. The robots had their own section as well! Please don’t let me forget the CONSTRUCTION AREA of the hallway! Yellow everywhere! Yellow Tonka trucks of all types and sizes that had stone, dirt, Earth movers, you name it, it was in that section being constructed! Evil Knievel always had his section as well. Somehow in the middle of his jump; from ramp to ramp he was in midair (hanging by fishing line from the ceiling) over buses, rubber snakes one year, more cars the other year. He always had the same pose, standing on the bike pegs with one hand off the handlebars. It was like he was waving to us as we walked down this long everlasting hallway! (25 feet Tom keep walking). Toys all over the place! Remember we have yet to make it to the store’s double doors. After the 15 minute walk (or standing around and looking at all the toys) we would come to the double doors that lead us into Hess Brothers! The entrance to ’TOY MECCA of De WORLD’ (or Hess’s fourth floor). January through most of November, but not today! For when we opened those double doors it was like the North Pole or Santa’s Workshop. The grand stage was set all we needed to do was open up those doors! Much like in the movie ‘A Christmas Story’, Santa would be sitting up high on top! He was about 8 feet high in the sky as he sat looking over his workshop area. Some called it Santa Land. My brother and I couldn’t wait to go see the REAL SANTA! Oh Man! I just opened my eyes and it’s all gone! The store has long been closed and knocked down. My vision of the workshop, missing some details that I am sure of! Can we please go back to 1974-1979? Yes it was that memorable each and every time mom would take us! Thank you mother for making it so special for us each and every year!" ClausNet: What is the hardest question you have gotten as Santa Claus and what was your response? Schwindy: "It surprisingly wasn’t a question from a child, rather a request from a mother who was a teacher’s aide at the Catholic Grade school I was asked to visit. My second or third year portraying Santa, I went to our local Catholic grade school. I was sitting waiting for the children to walk into the classroom as they were at lunch. All of a sudden, I was asked by one of the teacher’s aids, ‘Santa my daughter is going to be walking in very soon. Can you please tell her that you can’t bring her a lap top computer for Christmas?’ This was all told to me as the children were running into the classroom. So it went pretty rough for me on that ‘visit’ as well as rough for the little girl and her mother. Because of being such a green horn with situations like this, I actually made a child cry! I told the child that Santa was unable to bring her a laptop because the elves couldn’t keep up with the demand. Because of my inexperience portraying Santa, I handled the situation incorrectly. She walked away crying and it taught me a great lesson that day. Hopefully, I will be better to handle things like this because of ClausNet. I am lucky enough to say that something like this has never happened to us again! I have been told by parents that I might be asked some pretty tough questions from this one or that one. But it hasn’t happen, thankfully. There was actually a happy ending to the story above. I was able to redeem myself as Santa. Less than a week later, they raffled a laptop computer at my job. Only at Christmastime could this have happened. I won it out of 90 people in the plant. They asked for a $1.00 donation as that was all one could buy and I won! From what I was told, it was only a three year old computer (which means nothing to me) and had on it all the bells and whistles (which again at that time I had no idea what that meant)! Through a mutual friend, I found out where the little girl lived who I disappointed. My wife and I portrayed the Clauses and delivered the laptop to the child. I told the child it was Santa’s personal lap top in which he had on it his naughty and nice list. I had the tech guy at work make it look like Santa’s personal computer. I told her the Elves heard what had happened at school that day and the elves decided to give Santa his Christmas gift early that year. Oh those elves! My new laptop! So I gave her my old one! Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!" ClausNet: How did you find ClausNet? Schwindy: "I did a massive Internet search in January 2015 to why my all in one Halco Supreme Beard Set fell apart on Christmas Eve! After using spirit gum on the mustache area as well as in the chin cup. I was perplexed because I did just as I was told to do from the costume shop who sold me the set. The mustache fell apart in hours after I used it. They quickly took it back, thank goodness! Thank you TJS, as you put me on the right track in getting the right beard set for me and what we do." ClausNet: And what do you like most about ClausNet? Schwindy: "First and foremost, I would like to express to you all how grateful I am for the friendships that I personally have formed with many of you here. The ClausNet’s family has been unreal, unbelievably real for me! I truly love the men and women of this group, we don’t always agree, yet I feel the general concerns for me when I post a question or make a statement to when I have done something right or wrong. I also find myself truly worried for the family members when you all ask for prayers. What an honor it is to be asked to pray for you all. More importantly, I am blessed because when I ask you all to keep me and my family in your prayers. The responses I get back are a WOW to say the least! Secondly, all the information that comes and goes out of here. It is truly incredible to see a bunch of people willingly helping people with all kinds of problems. What a GREAT resource for us all! The men and women who think like MacGyver and the way they explain things from A-Z. Wow!" ClausNet: Is there a Santa or Mrs. Claus over the years that you admire or has inspired you? Can you tell us a little bit about him/her? Schwindy: " I admire many of the men and women here on ClausNet. I feel I must comment on many of you. Sorry it’s going to be a bit here, go get whatever your favorite beverage I’ll wait. Chris Capstone: The boots and green gloves as well as the Lacey 007 and the metals. Santa TJS: The help with the 007 and why my all in one didn’t work for me. KKringle (RIP): Your kindness to me will NEVER be forgotten. I pray that the big guy is letting you see this, your words to me, GAME CHANGER. Hogfather: Your look and our PM back and forth love em! Ol’ Santa: Jerry your words of wisdom as well as PM. Santa Bob of Tulsa: PM and the back and forth I really like our little time we have had together. My Main Man Vern Crawford: So easy going and we hit it off so well. I loved our PM. FrSanta: AKA Father David beyond words you have helped me with LIFE as well as Santa, I THANK YOU! Nick Hudson: Funniest guy right off the bat I met and your help with the magic key as well as when you posted ‘I just did my taxes and I am broke’. You had me in stitches! Your talks through PMing me were very inspirational, thank you. You are a teacher and one of the best here when you do it. You all above have had something to do with me being better. Better in the way I look and sometimes in a better attitude with life. Second set of admiring. Eileen: It started with me trying to make a toy sack myself, but the MS didn’t let me; then you giving me the how tos for my seamstress. From there it seems every year you have something to do with Kathy as well as myself looking just a little bit better each and every year. Santa Marty: Where does one go from stating the obvious about Marty? You are a great resource for me BUT mostly ClausNet and for a guy whom I have never met; you just seem pure of heart. SCSanta: AKA Patrick, you’re someone I just kind of hit it off with and I am grateful for your advice as well as directions for when I ask for it. It is an honor to call you not just a brother, but a friend. Santa Johnny Boy: Dude, Pops, funny guy, you my friend are TOO much, you’re advice as well as friendship, phone calls and just the ha, ha’s we seem to share. So very grateful for our friendship it is my honor as well to call you “Pop” and dear friend as well as the other guy who wears the green gloves, I love that look. Without all of the above people, your help as well as tips for me, I’d be a very different looking Santa for sure! The help I have received from the MANY, in shaping me as a better man as well as being a much better amateur Santa. From helping to rethink things at times as well as how to portraying Santa the lessons were so very valuable and lessons well learned. I am still learning from all of you! Even with the how to approach life on certain levels, you all have helped me tenfold. Please go back and look at those photos from before and after. Today my look has a lot of your personal touches on my attire and or portrayal. Lastly, Christ Capstone: As I have said before, he has helped me out in a few areas. But his biggest help to me was when he told me, ‘Schwindy go out and find someone who wears the Lacey 007. See if they would be willing to mentor you.' A few emails went out and I found one man willing to not only be a mentor to me, but he is now a friend, but more like a big brother to me. Someone I now call a great and true friend. I forget the exact count, but I sent him something like 15 to 20 panic emails and a bunch of phone calls the same month. It was February! Please understand I was in a terrible rush. Christmas was right around the corner! Or so I thought as I had no idea to ‘What in Sam Hill’ was going on and how to fix the Lacey 007. Father Christmas AKA Bruce Lowe: Bruce could see that I was a bit of a nut job. He saw how I just wanted to know the ins and outs of how too and what is needed to maintain the Lacey 007. For the record, I heard a rumor that he was looking into changing ALL of his contact information and thought about moving after the twelfth email. But Camp Lowe would only have a ‘no comment’ for this ClausNet interview. I tried to get to the bottom of it, but to no avail. Bruce not only took the time to share with me everything he knew about the Lacey 007, but he then took his mentoring to a level that blew me away. One day I received a box. Inside that box was a full set of over lays for my beard, an extra mustache or two. Top it off with a few other odds and ends and my Christmas box was full of early gifts. To this day he is still sending me ‘things’ for my portrayal to which I graciously except and feel honored that he chooses me to share his ‘extras’ with. Bruce you have been the very best thing to have happen to me since being here on ClausNet. Your kindness has taught me so much more than portraying Santa Claus. You have also shown me how to live day in and day out, year in and year out with an illness. We have more than ClausNet, and much more than portraying Santa Claus in common my friend! But you already knew that, I am taking this time to let them know that and to how grateful I am! Last year, Bruce passed down to me, one of his vests. It is in fact, one of the vests that Eileen had made for him a few years back. I had it altered to fit me. I was able to wear it for the same kind of gig as he had used it for. The gig was for the pets with Santa photos. All proceeds that Saturday (December 3, 2016) went to a no kill shelter here locally in the Lehigh High Valley Area. Bruce, if not for your help, your time, as well as your teachings, along with the everlasting phone conversations we still have, I highly doubt I’d still be here sharing any of this with the members of ClausNet. So if anyone wants to blame someone for me still being around, it’s all his fault! ;- ) Thank you Bruce! I love you like a younger brother loves and looks up to his older brother. With and through awe struck eyes every time it’s time to put on the suit, but mostly the overlays and mustache! It is that simple. I will always be thinking of you as I am attaching the mustache and ready to head out the door!" ClausNet: What advice can you give to a first time Santa or Mrs. Claus? Schwindy: "Read and spend a few hours in the archives. From what ifs, to what and how to wear, act, and how to be Santa. You know, the ‘Santa stuff’. Then after the first few hours, if you don’t like what you’re reading, stop and don’t even think about it again, it’s probably not for you and that’s so OK! It isn’t for everyone. But, if you do like what you’re seeing, keep going! Ask questions and save certain pages here of ClausNet to your computer, because you will have trouble finding them sometimes. Especially when you NEED to find something quickly! Have a ClausNet file and then save it all to that file! I’d also tell them, the tools and knowledge here on ClausNet are second to none. I believe that the schools, classes and workshops that are out there, are very much like the Top Guns and if one can, one should go. But ClausNet offers 24/7 how to do this and that and it is FREE, but the explanations as well as the walk through are far cries from cheap! Top notch advice that will turn anyone who wants it, into an actor of Christmas Spirit. Last piece of advice. If ClausNet has helped you in anyway after you have done the above and portrayed. I’d recommend that one doesn’t forget about ClausNet. At Christmas time, ones birthday or when one may run into a little extra cash. Just part of paying it forward or back, however one wants to look at it." ClausNet: Anything else you would like to add? Schwindy: "Number ONE, first and foremost…I LOVE this place! ClausNet has helped me tenfold. More times than I will ever get to repay it back or pay it forward. But I will try my very best. I humbly know that what I say is in fact the truth. I am a much better armature Santa Claus because of what ClausNet has taught and is still teaching me. Period! I wish you all could hear my words and not read them on this page! As I have said this to one of you just recently! I wish you could hear my voice, for you would know what my heart is trying to say. When one reads someone else’s words, sometimes it gets read incorrectly, the interpretation gets twisted and a totally different interpretation happens. It gets interpreted the wrong way. This can happen to anyone of us at any one time. I am sure this has happen with a handful of you with me doing the writing. For that I am sorry! I try to write with no malice, as well as no hate, or undermining of any kind, yet sometimes it just doesn’t come across that way. The reason is simple, I made a mistake. I screwed up my words and hit the send button. For that I am sorry. We can agree to disagree all day long, but I feel bad if someone thinks I am trying to create a world or be a part of the world that likes causing trouble and chaos. Second, my numbers here on ClausNet are RIDICULOUSLY inflated. They are inflated to the point that I am honestly kind of embarrassed about it. I am not that smart, nor am I that cleaver, to have so many ‘likes’ or days won. When I was at 31 days won, I thought how cool if it stays that way. Because 31 was the number I wore back when I played deck / street hockey. It has always been a good or lucky number for me. I am a better person, as well as Santa today, than when I was first allowed in to ClausNet January 15, 2015. Thank you Michael Rielly as I saved you for last. See how I did that! But you, Michael are the final personal thank you as well as the nod of being September’s MOTM. Thank you sir, ClausNet as well as the board. Thank you to all the ClausNet members who read or kind of follow me. I am bringing this to you from the bottom of my very soft and huge heart. Thank you for your time as well as all the help I have received over the last 2-1/2years! Peace and Love Thomas J. Schwindenhammer AKA Schwindy " Thank you Tom! Everyone, please join me in congratulating Schwindy , our ClausNet Featured Member of the Month for September 2017!
  16. 2 points
    This will be my 11th year portraying Santa Claus with any real determination and focus. In that time, I have grown (figuratively and literally!) to not only respect the opportunity that I have in the suit, but to cherish the time I have in the suit. We have all heard it said, "you never really can understand until you are in the suit" and I can attest to that. It's an amazing rollercoaster and you never can expect what's around the corner as I, like most, have been thrown a few curveballs here and there. This season is almost 100% booked and while it's not only going to be busy, I am adding a new wardrobe, new belt and buckle, new boots, new items for my Santa show, new giveaways, and a new custom ornament based on my mailbox design for special visits. Not replacements, just additions. Will all of these new things make me a better Santa? The obvious answer is, "NO." When I was in high school, I was hired by a family friend to work as a roofer. I would learn to spot repairs that were needed, reroof a house, and treat wood shake. One thing that I was not prepared for was the experiences and lessons I would learn from this trusted father figure in my life. He has now since passed away but recently I heard his words ringing in my head and I thought I would share... Mr. Brown had one of the biggest roofing companies in our area with one major competitor, a newer business that seemed to be everywhere. While our company had two older tiny little pickups and modest equipment, the competitor was seen around town with a full size truck fleet, brand new equipment, and trailers with their logos everywhere. I remeber one afternoon while on a roof with him, one of those shiny big trucks drove by and the driver honked and waived. As they drove off, I made a comment about how we should get a truck like that. His response was, "Why?" He explained, "Can we not do everything our job entails and to the best quality standard? His company has been around for five years and in that time, would you like to know how many customers have come to us because they were not happy? While they were out buying stuff in their first year of business, in my first year, I was walking door to door, and doing the best possible job I could do, treating every customer like they were my first but that they could be my last. "I have never seen a need for the shiny and new because what I have gets the job done and leaves my customers happy." It was a year or two after that conversation that the competitor filed for bankruptcy and was gone. Mr. Brown kept going until he decided to sell the business and retire. I found myself, while I sent off another payment for something new and shiny, Mr. Brown's word enter my mind. Now, what's the point of the story? I'm not going to tell you to stop buying things because, let's face it, new and shiny is pretty fun sometimes, but...time, effort, and training will always come out as the victor in our Santa portrayal. I am fortunate to not be in an area that is saturated by Santas. I have more than enough work in my area and I'm certainly not competing with other Santas. Time and effort is always spent on the "stuff" for the coming season but are we taking time to prepare our minds and hearts? May each of us not forget or lose sight of the fact that our inner Santa, our knowlege, our heart, our experience, must ALWAYS come first in our seasonal preparations...each and every child needs this to be our focus. The new shiny buckle, suit, or boots will NOT make you a better Santa. What is on the outside is not what makes you Santa. We have an amazing opportunity coming soon. We will put on a suit and create lasting memories for those we visit. Be your best, study, read, ponder how to be your best. That's my focus for this season. Finding ways I can be better. Thank you Santas! I am grateful for this community and for the sharing that takes place here. I cannot imagine portraying Santa isolated, not being able to share or learn from each others experiences. I am grateful for you and I can certainly say there are some giants and mentors here that I respect immensely...keep sharing!
  17. 2 points
    I enjoy asking them who they share the toy with and how they play with it.
  18. 2 points
    Definitely agree with your approach, @Caleb Sigmon . Knowing at least small details about the popular items is the best way to make their visit more memorable and special for them. And, as you pointed out, even their parents get some joy from it, too.
  19. 2 points
  20. 2 points
    Londonderry Mall Santa feels the Christmas love while in hospital September 1, 2017 by CATHERINE GRIWKOWSKY - Edmonton Journal Excerpt: Edmonton, Alberta.- When Cecil Hawley looked at photos of himself as Santa posing with kids at Christmas, he smiled for the first time in two months. Hawley, 68, has been Santa at the Londonderry Mall for years, but has been in the University Hospital for two months with an undiagnosed illness. His granddaughter, Nicole Hawley, put out a request on social media for photos with her grandfather to offer him a little early Christmas cheer, expecting a dozen or so photos. “At this point, we could probably wallpaper a house with all the photos we’ve gotten,” she said. Since her request Wednesday, she has received hundreds of photos, videos and stories. Family from Ingonish, N.S., that she had never met began reaching out. “Just to see the change in him, that smile, when we read him the letters and show him the pictures and some of the videos, it really lifted our hearts,” said his wife, Dana Hawley, who portrays Mrs. Claus. The couple started doing Santa photos by donation for the Stollery Children’s Hospital. Then they were approached by Londonderry Mall, where they have been ever since. **** In a quiet moment at the mall one day, a man walked by and Cecil Hawley said to come sit with Santa. When he asked the man what wanted for Christmas, he said he needed to change his life. Cecil Hawley told the man the power to change your life comes from within your heart and your mind. Before he left, he told Cecil Hawley he had given him the best thing. “He said, ‘I was leaving here to end my life,’ ” Dana Hawley recalled. Since that Christmastime, he has come back every year, thanking him for giving him his life. The family said they have been shown the power of love in all the responses coming from people who have sat with Santa over the years. “With everybody’s support that we have, we know we’re going to get through this,” Dana Hawley said. SOURCE:
  21. 2 points
  22. 2 points
    Well, it wasn't hours to read but You my friend are ONE WINDY SCHWINDY! It's a good thing you are not MOTM for November or December cause I probably wouldn't have had the time to wade through your interview!! Congratulations, and Welcome to the MOTM club. Great to get to know you a bit better.
  23. 2 points
    To you Michael; This is the proof of your work, and seriousness to your commitment! May it go on for generations long after all of us.
  24. 2 points
  25. 2 points

    From the album Photos in the ClausNet posts

    Just a wee bit of flooding from Harvey in eastern Texas
  26. 2 points
    Christmas in August Sparta church shares HOPE with family of 8-year-old fighting leukemia August 22, 2017 By: Amelia Wigton - CCheadliner.com Excerpt: It was a hot August afternoon, but that didn’t stop Santa Claus from visiting 8-year-old Shelbee Maudlin, his two brothers and his older sister. “I was on my sleigh and it gave out on me just over Ozark. So, these guys gave me a ride,” Santa said, pointing toward the Christian County Sheriff deputies. “Reindeer don’t like this hot weather.” Just minutes earlier, as the caravan pulled into the Maudlin driveway in the country in Stone County, sheriff deputies turned on lights and sirens and the younger children came running. Shelbee, however, didn’t move as quickly and was a bit shy. “He had treatment yesterday,” his dad, Matt Maudlin said. “We go back to Memphis on the 16th for a spinal tap.” Shelbee was diagnosed with leukemia last year. “We just started phase 2 of treatment. He has 120 weeks left. We will go back to Memphis seven or eight times,” Matt said. “You never thought you’d have to fight for your kid every day.” Members of HOPE Church of Sparta, where the Maudlin family attended before moving to Reeds Spring, organized the summer Christmas celebration. The church collected toys for the children as well as food for the family. Diana Arthur, associate pastor of HOPE Church of Sparta, said it was a labor of love. “All of them would sit on the front row and raise their hands and praise God,” she said about the Maudlins when they attended HOPE church. “They are just an amazing family.” Santa volunteered to leave the North Pole to deliver the gifts, with the help of deputies of the Christian County Sheriff’s Office. The church also collected a love offering. “We still consider you a part of the HOPE family,” Pastor Michael Hamilton said before presenting the family with an $870 check, as well as a cash from donation collected at the Christian County Sheriff’s Office. “Before we go, we’d like to have prayer for your family,” Hamilton said. “It’s been our privilege to spend Christmas with you all. We’re a little early.” Making a circle, many holding hands, everyone gathered around and bowed their heads. “We love him, but we know you love him so much more,” Hamilton prayed. “Bring healing and health and a long life for him.” SOURCE:
  27. 2 points
  28. 2 points
    I like being able to get cards early. It let's me then (hopefully), take some time in batches to get them written and ready to send out as the holidays get closer and I get even busier than normal!
  29. 2 points
    Name: Santa is Not Just for Christmas Anymore. Category: Member Videos Date Added: 2017-08-03 Submitter: ImSanta We are all very busy in December, but what about the rest of the year? Here's my recent effort to help promote some Summer Santa activities. Santa Dan Greenleaf ImSanta.Org santa@ImSanta.org Santa is Not Just for Christmas Anymore.
  30. 2 points
    I see all the reminiscing and this is how it use to be, well times change. The children no longer have much of an imagination, they forget what isn't in their face constantly. I drive for Uber and Lyft doing ride share and some of my customers tell me they would give anything for someone to be able to remind their kids that Santa is watching all year long so they will be reminded to be good for him. I know that the parents should step up and take control of the children but I my self being from a broken home and raised by a single mom who had to work full time and raise 4 kids it gets tough. I don't see an issue with trying to make life better for the parents with a reminder to the kids that "Hey! Santa is watching and you never know where he may pop up" or if someone or an organization is looking for and invites you as Santa to go help them out no mater what time of year. I tell kids and people who don't see me as the "real" Santa that the real Santa's don't live for ever and when the old Santa is ready to retire he chooses one of his many helpers that are out there (Because there are so many in stores and such around the cities kids are questioning anyway) to become the real Santa. Then I let them know I am the next in line so I am growing out my beard and working hard to become the BEST Santa that has ever been. I know a LOT of you don't agree, and yes making the kids and parents feel good about them selves and seeing the AWE in the kids eyes makes me feel better but what is wrong with people helping each other out and making each other feel good no mater the situation? Who says that Santa's can only have their internal magic recharged during the "season" and the rest of the year we have to just be. I love the joy the kids get when they think they have seen Santa on vacation, I think in most cases it is just as special as when they see Santa near Christmas. I ask the kids what they want and then tell them when they come to see me later, closer to Christmas, to remind me what they want because there is still a lot of time between now and Christmas and they could change their mind, and if they don't I need to make sure that my list is correct. I LOVE being Santa and yes I know that some of it is feeding my own need of joy but again I don't feel we should be deprived of the joy most of the year and don't think that the kids are being hurt because the saturation is already here and the BIG CITIES and the retail need for making money off the Christmas season and us as Santa's is real and not going to go away. Shoot across the street from my condo in Arizona there is a Coke advertisement that has Christmas like theme already and it has been there sense JUNE!!!!!
  31. 2 points
    I kinda didn't want to get into this discussion, but what exactly are the consequences a Santa has to deal with? Are elves going to come to my room in the dark of night and shave my beard off or what? Just curious. Sounds rather dire.....
  32. 2 points
    I'm naturally white bearded all year long. Off season I'm just John. I never deliberately approach someone as Santa off season. The only exception is a Christmas related event such as Christmas in July, where I've been hired as Santa. During Season I never go to the mall. If I am ever in a situation where there is another Santa and some one asks "If the is Santa who are you?" My favorite response in "North Pole Security, we look after the big guy". With that said. If I'm approached and called Santa, I become Santa and keep my visit very brief. If asked what am I doing in Florida in the summer time. I just sat I'm on vacation or Just checking my nice list. Then I quickly move on. I always keep any off season encounters as brief a possible. Often as I'm walking away I hear parents say to their children"See he's always watching".
  33. 2 points
    Can you tell I feel strongly about this? It sickens me that we care that little for the legend. I will not mince words on this. I totally agree that there are times when a RBS slips into Santa mode no matter the time of the year. Its the ones who approach children or call out to them or just plain seek them out that I have an issue with. Its creepy...regardless of your intentions. You are correct in that there is no ruling arbiter for Santa. We are all our own arbiter. And if we all were to want to keep the mystery of the legend alive and approach our interactions with that in mind, then I would have absolutely NO issue at all. Don't seek them out. If you are approached as an RBS, do what you want at that point. But no. We get caught up in our feelings...the feelings that we experience. We also get caught up in what we hope those that we serve feel. But, we should be more concerned with only their feelings and not our own. This legend...this character...it has a history and we should not go changing the history of who he is, how he behaves, and when he appears. I can say this to prove my point. I would say 99.9999% of all of us who do this, when we were children, seldom (if ever) saw Santa Claus outside of the Christmas holiday unless it was at a themed event or park. Why do we feel the need to change that except for our own benefit? We can say its for the children, but its not. It all comes down to ego. And that will be the downfall of this legend. And if you cannot even begin to see it from that standpoint, then you are the problem.
  34. 2 points
    Edward Estlin (E. E.) Cummings (1894 – 1962) was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is best known for his typographically creative poetry which are seemingly placed at random, slicing up individual words as well as sentences, but Cummings was also a painter, essayist, author, and playwright. He wrote approximately 2,900 poems; two autobiographical novels; four plays and several essays. Little Tree by E. E. Cummings little tree little silent Christmas tree you are so little you are more like a flower who found you in the green forest and were you very sorry to come away? see i will comfort you because you smell so sweetly i will kiss your cool bark and hug you safe and tight just as your mother would, only don't be afraid look the spangles that sleep all the year in a dark box dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine, the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads, put up your little arms and i'll give them all to you to hold every finger shall have its ring and there won't be a single place dark or unhappy then when you're quite dressed you'll stand in the window for everyone to see and how they'll stare! oh but you'll be very proud and my little sister and i will take hands and looking up at our beautiful tree we'll dance and sing "Noel Noel"
  35. 1 point
    Today was a productive day, sort of. I started the day by re-bleaching my beard, which I haven't done over most of the summer. Since my beard tends to be grey anyway, it wasn't strictly necessary until later in the season. But the reason I did so is the next thing: At the request of one of the photographers that I will working with this season, I visited her in-home studio to do a practice photo session with her kids, to generate some promo shots for use on her website and my own. Since this is my first year, and I don't have pics with kids yet, I was willing to do this on an otherwise unused Saturday morning. I don't know if I'd be quite so willing to do this if I had more experience, and a collections of photos to post. But I might, since relationships like this can be useful. As a beginning Santa Claus, I am learning that there are a lot of moving parts to this occupation. Care and feeding of reindeer, toy manufacturing, bell jingling, not to mention working with things like GigSalad, PayPal, and so forth. I was on the phone with one of my gigs yesterday, and found that she could not make a payment on my personal PayPal page, since she didn't have a PayPal account. She suggested that I try a business account. So I did, and it was easy. Learn something new every day.
  36. 1 point
  37. 1 point
    " One word only. What's one word you could give a new Santa or Mrs. Claus that is starting out that sums it all up? " I found this an interesting thought project! My answer was "Build". My one word of advice, "Build". But what did I mean? What do you "Build"? (Another word for "Build" would be "Develop") and so the the source for this particular blog. Lets begin at the start, shall we? When you first decided to portray "Santa" you needed to put together the look you will present as Santa Suits look pretty much the same all over with slight differences in detail, material used in construction of it and the items you accessorize the basic Suit with such as Belt, Buckle, Boots, pins, buttons, Beard, hat, Bag and bells. That is about it except.... clientele, presentation, advertising and building your business. Build your appearance by taking care with the selection of your Suit and materials making it. continue to build your appearance with Grooming your Hair, Beard and health. Since all of these are in a constant state of repair or maintenance Look in the Tool box and see what tools you have to work with here. Do you sew? Do you have some one that does? Hair care, do you understand how the chemicals you would be using on your head and face! Finally do you have qualified contractors on hand near by that can do that job for you charging a reasonable price for the service? That should cover the "Building" part, yes? No! Build your presentation. Build your "Act" as "Santa" that you will present to the Audience you perform for. Private Family visit, Corporate Employee Christmas Party. Corporate Customer Promotion party, Strolling Santa in a Store or Mall, Sitting in a Chair in a Mall as the subject focus in a "Three and Done!" photo opportunity or televisiting in a Children's Hospital or visiting an Adult Assisted care for Memory challenged (along with many more various situations). Better get out that tool box and see what tools you have to work with.and remember, if all you have is a hammer, your approach to every problem will be to pound them. Look to stock your tool chest with tools that will finesse the project rather than beat it to death with your "Mighty Ho, Ho, HO!" hammer. Having a Story telling Flat head Screw driver combined with a Carol singing Phillips head screw driver combined with an adjustable wrench stock of all purpose answers ready for those questions that seem to come every year. Don't forget to store a quantity of Nails, Screws and fasteners of various size and color as the best Hammer still needs a nail to pound to make something. Otherwise all you can do is tear down/beat down/Break down instead of build. All done?? NOOooooo! Not yet! Build your Clientele and Contacts! This takes different tools to build those circuits and maintain that transmission of information flowing. This is going to take a different type of tools but building this is very important as well to any growing Business. First you will need to have some Advertising "Brushes" to "Paint" your business with. Small brushes like Business cards well designed work here. Wider brushes would be press releases, Flyers, and developing a social media presence. From there you could look into an "Area Sprayer" to cover larger areas such as a well designed web page, mining your Email accounts, Wrapping your vehicle with contact information and pictures of your presentation then using (judiciously) constant contact to notify clients about your product. So the kind of tools you would use for this part of your Building project would be in the form of Pliers to hold the attention of your clientele while you connect them to your products. You will also need a supply of connectors and a few Splicing tools as well. So keep in mind when you go out to portray Santa for the Public, you want to build a beautiful modern Home and Office to work from. Try to be a step up from a rustic outhouse lacking running water, electricity and wifi. So pick up that tool box, look inside to see what you might need to add to it and then look at the project you have built with an eye to what and where you can add to make it better. Finally once you have your own house in order with tight doors and tight roof with a dry basement, You are ready to look around and offer help to others still working on their "Building" and stocking their tool box. This is called Mentoring. May your season be Joyous! Yours, Gordon Bailey SatBobS.com
  38. 1 point
    Apparently, paying any attention to someone else & making observations are frowned upon.
  39. 1 point
  40. 1 point
    Congratulations and don't you just love spell check! A great interview.
  41. 1 point
    The September 2017 issue of the ClausNet Gazette is now online! view online
  42. 1 point
    "You pays your money and takes your chances" Since my last writing in this thread, I have helped 6 Santas find work in malls, 5 Santas find work in Bass Pro Shops and 1 Santa hook up with a photography studio that does Christmas portrait sessions. Not a one was for "BIG MONEY" but they did pay decently for the amount of effort that would be involved on the part of the performer. All those positions could lead to future employment for those individuals as well. The economy is in flux and that leads to employers being conservative in what they are willing to pay. In times like this you must be willing to extend yourself when looking for work. Look and think outside the box. Extend yourself and your circle of search when you do look for work. An exciting project has just started that may bring work to over 100 Texan Santa in 2019. More details may be coming in April 2018 at the ISC (Denver) and Nationwide Santa (Las Vegas) events. Keep your fingers crossed. What does this mean to You, the individual Performing Santa? Not much unless you decide to start hustling. Get out there and make sure people know you are available for Parties, Corporate events. If you are like me and see the world as "What could this lead to?" rather than "I refuse to lower my standards by taking this job!" You might well find you're making some money by getting out there showing people what you can do which leads to more work this season and in future seasons. Several friends lost their gig making $12,500 (at $25 an hour) only to find entry level gigs that pay $6500 (at $40 an hour) with the possibility of advincing up the ladder in the new company if they prove their worth. Just saying "I am Worth $250 an hour!" does not do it on this kind of playing field. If you are happy with doing 20 visits a year, 30 even, good for you. If you wish to bring the Joy of "Santa" into more homes or Families, then you need to start hustling to find the work and then do the work. While doing all of that, Look HARD at the people you are hoping to work for! What is their track record? How happy are the people that are working for them? Do they honor their contracts with you? Every time? The word is out on several current employers and though we have had a "Code of Silence" in the past, today that is no longer in play thanks to the prevalent actions of some of those employers. Honesty is not something you can put in the bank or spend but it does reflect on whether you will receive the funds you contracted for if you hold up your end of the contract. Work for some of those that do not honor their commitments and Contracts and you will find yourself with far less cash to spend. Learn to do Business! Learn what a contract is for before you say "I never use a contract, a hand shake is good enough for me!" In life there are "ups" and "DOWNS" don't let a setback stop you! Go out and build new contacts, new relationships, New Contacts and start building your Career As a Performer NOW! This is what business owners, business people, creative people do in building their trade and clientele. After this season, you will se a whole lot of that happening in the Southern Coast states and Eastern Seaboard. Strong weather has that effect. No matter what the climate (Business or Weather) those that prepare and build their base well, those people will be in a better position to take advantage of changes in the ongoing season and what happens from there. No one starts a business with a guarantee of success. In fact more new business fails in the first 5 years than succeed. What those new businesses that do succeed have in common is the ability to adjust to the changes in their industry. Become a person that is self starting! One that is both ethical and honest. One that in 10 years from now people in the business will point at and say "That person is great to work with and gives fair value for his fees. Customer satisfaction is his/her first priority! Because when it is all boiled down, this is a service industry that lives or dies by its service provided. Advancement up the ladder does not always go to the one making claims of high earnings or "Who" he had on his knee. It is done quietly, diligently and consistently visit by visit, customer by customer. May your season be Joyous! Yours, Santa Gordon Bailey SatBobS.com
  43. 1 point
    OK so NOW that it is actually September ......... The MANY here have helped me by the tons, to those who are still kinda new, just keep reading and these people will do for you as they have for me. I am grateful for the interview as well as the many very nice words. You all are the ones who make it fun to check back in each and every day! Thanks everyone
  44. 1 point
    "Congratulations" I enjoyed the interview ... "Congratulations" again!
  45. 1 point
    Congratulations my friend ! It was a great interview and a pleasure to read.
  46. 1 point
    Congratulations mate, well done 👍👍
  47. 1 point
    I am sure there are Easter Bunny actors walking around in Casual Easter Bunny Attire...
  48. 1 point
  49. 1 point
    Thanks for your thoughts. I certainly respect your opinion. But I have a hard time accepting the idea that giving children (and adults) the opportunity to connect with Santa at other times of the year will make Santa ordinary. It specifically the "specialness" of Santa that makes those encounters so magical. I was heading into the water for a swim at the beach one day. And a little boy saw me and asked if I was Santa. I winked and put my fingers to my lips, whispering "I'm on vacation." You can't tell me the look on his face and excitement was a result of Santa becoming ordinary. On the contrary, it was a bonus opportunity to experience the specialness of Santa. What would the response be if I said no, I'm just an ordinary fat, bearded guy going for a swim. That child would have lost a exciting, special moment in his life. Why do folks regularly ask to take a photo with us? When a guy hollers from across the street -- "Hey, Santa. How come I didn't get that car I wanted for Christmas?," is that because Santa has become ordinary? When a little child spies you in the supermarket and identifies you as Santa, that's not because we have become ordinary; it's because Santa is special always. My opinion is you can never have too much of a good thing. And having a moment of "specialness" through an encounter with Santa anytime is a good thing.
  50. 1 point
    Gentlemen, You can look like Santa year round, you don't have to act like Santa all year. It is a choice, a choice each of us makes. And yes, this is more difficult for a naturally bearded individual. Some, not all, have just chosen to take the position... Well, I look like Santa everyday, I might as well be Santa everyday. If Santa is "seen" day in and day out, the "specialness" of Santa will be dissipated, diluted, and become ordinary. In my opinion, Santa is not ordinary, not at all, Santa is SPECIAL. I may appear to look like I might be Santa most of the year.... for children, if I am asked, I will tell them that I am NOT Santa. My engagement usually goes along the lines of "no, I am not Santa but, wouldn't having a job like Santa's be great?" Personally, I don't mind it one bit if I happen to be in a department store or any other store for that matter, and a child having "one of those moments" (tantrum or semi tantrum / I want this or that) and just my appearance.... not saying a word... I observe a distinct behavioral modification. I happen to enjoy the smile I receive from a parent or guardian once I am noticed. If I am hired to be Santa off season, I portray myself as Santa. I don't walk around day after day in Santa Casual, but I will for Santa related events, meetings etc. Again, this is just my opinion and merely an expression of my thoughts, I have not been appointed, nor elected to be the Santa Sheriff.
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