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ClausNet Gazette: News from the Santa Claus Network

January 2015

Volume 7, Issue 1

Happy New Year!

By Michael Rielly

Welcome to our January 2015 newsletter!

Happy New Year everyone and welcome to the first edition of the ClausNet Gazette for 2015!

Well I don't know about you, but this season just flew by for me. It seems like before I knew it, it was Christmas Day! I hope all of you were all able to spend time with your families and loved ones this Christmas season.

Hopefully you found some time last month to read through our December issue of the ClausNet Gazette. If you missed it, the Christmas Eve 2015 Special Edition of the ClausNet Gazette is available online! You can download it and all our past Christmas Eve editions in our Newsletter Archive.

A few weeks ago we hit a pretty significant milestone on Sometime last month, we reached 300,000 posts! And speaking of milestones, we are close to welcoming our 2,000th registered member! Thank you all for making this THE greatest community for Santas, Mrs. Clauses, Elves, Reindeer Handlers, and Helpers!

I wish you all a very happy and blessed new year! May 2015 bring you and your families happiness and good health!

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In The News

Breaking News on ClausNet

200-Pound Iconic Rudolph Statue Taken From Rolling Hills Estates

CBS Los Angeles -- Someone has made off with a 200-pound wooden Rudolph statue from a neighborhood in Los Angeles County.

The theft of the statue, which sits atop Ranchview Road in the Rolling Hills Estates area, occurred Friday night.

The iconic statue has been a fixture in the community for 50 years. The culprits left his broken antler behind, reported CBS2’s Bobby Kaple.

“The neighbor says, ‘Oh my gosh, please tell me Rudolph,’ and I said, ‘No,'” said Korry Taylor, the HOA president.

Taylor and her husband have been charged with taking care of the wooden reindeer for years.

“He’s been up there for literally 50 years and he’s one-of-a-kind. He’s handmade. Hand-painted. And the thought that someone would take him, it’s just heartbreaking,” she said.

Tim Taylor, Korry’s husband, said: “I originally thought, ‘Well, maybe it’s a prank. That somebody would bring him back.’ But it’s been a couple of days now and we haven’t seen him yet.”

Missing posters have now been distributed to try and locate the statue and the Lomita Sheriff’s station has taken a police report.

“It is the lowest of low. I mean, especially at Christmas time. I literally cannot imagine someone taking Rudolph,” Taylor said."
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Soldier Surprises Daughters Disguised as Santa Claus -- Two sisters thought they were just chatting with Santa Claus at their school in Texas when they recently got the surprise of a lifetime and saw their military father for the first time in 10 months.

“I just actually flew in last night and the kids don’t know I’m actually here, so I thought this would be a good surprise,” Vasquez said. Orlando Vasquez had just returned home from Germany when the idea struck him, CNN reported Friday.

“Kyra said, ‘Dear Santa, I can’t wait til Christmas because it’s my favorite holiday and sometimes you make our wish come true. My number one wish is for my dad to come home from Germany,’” Vasquez recounted.

After both girls told ‘Santa’ their wish to see their father soon, Vasquez unveiled himself to the delight of his daughters and the rest of the room.

“I thought I was dreaming and I was really happy,” Vasquez’s daughter Kyra told CNN.

It’s unclear when their father will have to return to Germany, but until then his daughter Kaylie says she looks forward to doing “a lot of things with him before he goes back.”

The father couldn’t agree more.

“It [has] definitely had its toll being in the military, being away from family. But, you know, having a close family like ours and good friends, I mean, it makes it all worth it in the end,” he said.
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The products that defined 2014 -- Looking at NPD figures for the year, it’s the likes of Frozen, Panini’s 2014 FIFA World Cup stickers, LEGO Minifigures and Loom Bands that have kept the tills ringing at toy retail for the past 12 months. But this doesn’t tell the whole story.

What about the stores that have missed the Frozen craze as a result of dodging licensed products? What has kept the aisles of wooden toy specialists busy without LEGO blind bags to make up the numbers? And those traditional stores which don’t stock any tech-related products – what’s been flying off their shelves this year?

ToyNews has asked a blend of retailers what toys have defined their 2014. And some of the answers may surprise you.

Helen Gourley, ToyHub -- “It’s Frozen. The brand has just been phenomenal. It would almost be unfair to name just one product because everything has done so well. If pushed, I would say the plush Olaf from Posh Paws. We had customers sending us photographs from their summer holidays showing ‘what Frozen things do in the summer.’”

Matt Booker, AutoMattic Comics and Toys -- “This year it has been Minecraft for us. Funko’s Pop Vinyl range has also done really well, and we have seen table top gaming boosted by Will Wheaton’s online web series, converting many video gamers to board gamers. Meanwhile, Magic: The Gathering has also enjoyed a resurgence. But if I had to pick just one, it’s Minecraft.”

Paul Wohl, Argosy Toys -- “Our number one product has been LEGO. It has just been amazing this year, we are well stocked up on it now, so there won’t be a problem for us on that front this year.”

Neil Waite, Captain Neil’s Toy Chest -- “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has been brilliant, but a lot of the vintage games have done really well for us, like Snakes and Ladders and Ludo. And puppets seem to be doing well. We’re seeing a return to retro.”

Taz Harney, Red 5 -- “Without doubt, the product that has defined our year has been the Q4 Nano Quadcopter. This tiny drone has won numerous awards, including Best New Toy 2014 at the ToyFair, due to the amount of groundbreaking technology contained within its tiny frame.”
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Featured Member - January 2015

Each month, our Featured Member section profiles one ClausNet member.

Members are chosen totally at random by myself and the staff. Once selected as the ClausNet Featured Member of the Month,we interview the candidate and post the interview on This is a great way to get to know your fellow ClausNet members!

This month our featured ClausNet Member is Caleb Sigmon!

Our first Featured Member of the Month for 2015 joined ClausNet back in December 2012. In addition to Santa Claus, Santa Caleb works as an actor and director. When not doing theatre-related work, he performs a one-man magic show.

ClausNet Featured Member of the Month

We caught up with Santa Caleb a few days ago and here is what he had to say...
Read the entire interview »

Missed an interview? Visit our Featured Members of the Month section to read past interviews!

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An Elf's Sabbatical

By Ol Santa

Binky the Elf has worked at Santa’s North Pole Toy Shop for nine and one half years and had achieved a great deal of personal satisfaction knowing that the work he has been doing was greatly appreciated by the many young boys and girls who have been good and received those toys.

But to Binky that was secondary to the satisfaction, person-ally he had from just working alongside the other Elves. Building electric trains one day and remote cars the next. To him, it was something he had always wanted to do. He knew he was pretty handy with tools and that was a good thing.

While building the trains for instance, he would sit on a tall wooden stool and select all of the required parts that were to be connected to the cast frame and electric motor that Clyde the Elf; sitting to his right had already assembled.

It was then Binky's job to take the frame/motor assembly handed to him by Clyde, and then insert the axles into the frame. Next he was to lock the drive wheels in place with the little metal keepers before passing it on to Alfie the Elf who would take the front wheel truck he had already assembled and the fasten it in place at the front of the engine before handing it on down the production line.

But the best part was that as the day progressed, he'd get to see the completed engines coming back by; riding on the conveyor belt that was in front of him across his work bench.

You see, once the engines were completed way on up the production line they were inspected and placed upon the conveyor that would take them to the Packaging Department where other Elves would combine an engine with a tender (coal car), a box car, a cattle car, a passenger car and a matching caboose passenger car. Other Elves would be pulling eight pieces of straight track; eight pieces of curved track, a transformer and all the other connecting parts.

They would put all of these finished components into a custom designed box manufactured and printed right there, at Santa's North Pole Print Shop. Once finished, they were sent on to the Storage area to await delivery by Santa on Christmas Eve. But there was one thing that Binky wasn't too thrilled about and that was the fact that Santa himself has made a rule that many Elves believed would lengthen the life of all the Elves that work in Santa's Toy Shop there at the North Pole.
Read more »

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The Real Santa of Miller & Rhoads

Donna Strother Deekens

The following is an excerpt from The Real Santa of Miller & Rhodes, by Donna Strother Deekens.

Introduction: I Believe!

I recall my very young days growing up as a girl in a small Hampton Roads community known as Cradock, in Portsmouth, Virginia, in the early 1950s. It was a wonderful place to spend my formative years. I remember especially the sweet Christmases with our blue spruce tree decked out with the huge multi-colored lights and the silver tinsel that had to be hung tediously one by one, according to the instructions of my dad, Mike Strother. Of course, our dear mom, Evelyn Strother, would offer her suggestions for the tree as well, but her seasonal expertise was wrapping holiday packages and making the delicious Christmas goodies we savored. The finished tree symbol that my sister, Judy, and I had proudly helped decorate, and we thought was so lovely because it “glistened,” was erected in the corner of our family room in our modest home on Dahlgren Avenue.

Our house was not big by today’s standards, but it was the kind of house any child would be proud to call “home,” especially in the 1950s following the tumultuous years of World War II. It was a white, two-storied house with dark green shutters and a white picket fence. There were a few times at Christmas that I recall it snowed, unusual for the eastern section of Virginia, and looking back on those times today, they remind me of the snowy scenes in the classic holiday film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Indeed, for me, it was “a wonderful life!” And Christmastime brought the visit from the Santa Claus – an event that was so special and so anticipated by me and my family.

Christmas for us was the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and we knew that the true reason for the season was to honor Him. Also, we knew that Santa Claus, sometimes known, too, as St. Nick or Father Christmas, visited good little girls’ and boys’ homes at this festive time of year, specifically on Christmas Eve. The excitement of his annual arrival created much enthusiasm and exuberance – bordering on frenzy in our household.With the exception of Christmas Eve, the one merry holiday event that evoked pure glee from me and my sister, and later our little brother, John, was the visit to Santaland at the downtown Miller & Rhoads department store in Richmond.
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Santa's Wisdom

The Four Stages of a Man’s Life

By Santa Lou Knezevich

1. You believe in Santa
Do you remember your childhood and your excitement as Christmas drew near? What about your experience seeing Santa and asking for that special toy! It may have been in a mall, department store or other place. I imagine it was a long wait and your excitement was almost uncontrollable.

Then it was your chance, your turn to see a very special man. I’m sure he was just as you imagined, all dressed in a Red Suit and trimmed in White fur. He had a friendly face and a flowing white beard which almost covered his mouth when he spoke. He looked at you with eyes which twinkled, just like the Santa in the story book! You knew this was your friend and the one person you could confide in about your Christmas wishes. You believed in Santa Claus.

Things have not changed since your childhood. Children today have the same expectations and belief in Santa Claus. Santa is The Person who will bring their wishes to life on Christmas morning. There is nothing to compare to the wonderment and awe in a child’s eyes sitting upon Santa knee. When you believe; there is an instant bond between a child and Santa Claus.

2. You don't believe in Santa
Unfortunately, the belief in Santa begins to disappear around the age of 8 or when peer pressure unhinges a deep seated belief. Older children seem to delight in “spilling the beans” or taunting younger ones with “there is no Santa Claus.” Listening to what classmates are saying about Santa confuses the child who is teetering on be living or non believing. The child isn’t entirely sure their playmates are right however, they may opt for believing, so as to ensure Santa will bring that special gift. Sometimes, Santas may say or do something to give life to the myth for one more year.

It’s a very sad time for children to find out their hero is no more. Children work through this and go forward with the knowledge Santa Claus is the love and joy found in the spirit of Christmas. As we grow older, the belief of Santa Claus is brought to mind by memories of our past holidays. Adults are sure Santa doesn’t exist; however, each Christmas season we hear stories of compassion, charity and sacrifice which at times may challenge the belief, “There is no Santa Claus.” It’s a sad day when a child finds out “there is no Santa Claus.”

3. You are Santa
There comes a time in a man’s life when he believes he’s Santa, without the benefit of the red coat or white beard. Late on Christmas Eve, when the children are fast asleep, he’s assembling toys in the garage. This is one of the satisfactions we have because we know the happiness these gifts will bring. We fulfill Santa’s role as the “Toy Maker” or should I say “Toy assembler.”

For varied reasons, a man may take on the role of Santa Claus. Maybe it starts by playing Santa for your family, the church or to help a friend. Putting on the “Red Suit” is a magical experience. Recognition is immediate and although you may feel inadequate, those who see you, know you are Santa Claus. When you hear the children’s Christmas wishes and see the adoring faces you have found one of your life’s mission.

Whether you start your Santa career early or in your later years, being a Santa is a positive and wholesome role model for children. One of the recurring statements I have heard from fellow Santas is, “Once I played Santa and saw all the happiness on the childrens faces, I knew I was hooked.” Putting on the “Red Suit” once or 100 times is a magical experience. Many of these children are going to remember their visit with you for the rest of their lives. Putting on the “Red Suit” is a “Magical experience.”

4. You look like Santa
Yes, you look like Santa! To maintain the look, a real bearded, keeps the beauty supply shops stocked with hair bleaching potions, developers and hair products. Santas with designer beards must purchase hair pieces and groom them to keep the expected look of Santa. I have no idea what gross sales of these items are however, we Santas spend a lot of money on our appearance. Our hair becomes white and children in the stores tell Mom, “I see Santa.” Large bellies just add to the appearance. It seems no matter what our doctors say about losing weight; Santas just can’t stay away from cookies, sweets and any other caloric laden food. It’s a shame costume shops only put a belt loop at each hip on a Santa Coat. A heavy buckle on a Santa belt just seems to use the belly as a ski run!

After one is a Santa for a short while, the urge for more elaborate costuming takes hold. I’m not casting stones, as I have some, one of a kind costumes which I enjoy wearing. I am making a point we must always remember; “children and adults have an image in their minds what Santa looks like.” It’s up to us to fulfill this image every time we put on the “Red Suit.” Many informally look like Santa during the “off season” by wearing shirts, jackets or suspenders which are red or have a Christmas theme. What an unexpected treat when a child spots “Santa on Vacation.”

Being Santa no matter what stage you are in is an awesome role with a responsibility to uphold the publics expectations of this beloved character

Always remember, “It’s not about you, it’s about the children.”

Santa Lou Knezevich
Creator Legendary Santas Mentoring Program

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Saturday Evening Post (cover) January 4, 1936
by J.C. Leyendecker

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Santa Claus Hall of Fame

Each month we feature an inductee of the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame. This month we honor Tim Cavender.

Georgia native Tim Cavender first put on the red suit when he was fourteen years old. Since then, Tim (whose wife Pam is ever by his side as Mrs. Claus) has devoted himself to an authentic and loving portrayal of the Jolly Old Elf.

Every year he devotes much of his time to local charities, Toys for Tots, and a canned food drive for a local television station. From parades and work with photographers to the annual tree lighting at the Governor’s Mansion, Tim carries two integral traits with him – his love and concern for children and a deeply rooted faith in the Reason for the Season.

Tim is not only a giver to the children and community that he serves as Santa but he is also a giver to the brotherhood of Santa Clauses as well. Driven by his own childhood experience with a less than magical interpretation of Santa, Tim has a desire to share the best possible image of the Jolly Old Elf.

The need for preserving and defending the image of Santa Claus is something that he also shares with fellow Santas and has brought him many admirers within the brotherhood.

Tim Cavender
Ball Ground, Georgia
1958 – Current

Want to learn more?
Visit the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame website.

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