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ClausNet Gazette: News from the Santa Claus Network

February 2014

Volume 6, Issue 2

Happy St. Valentine's Day!

By Michael Rielly

Happy February ClausNet!

Welcome to our February 2014 newsletter!

Well January is already behind us and the year is no longer "new". Aside from December, I think February is one of my favorite months. Not only is it a short month but there is no shortage of available chocolate. Also, my birthday falls in the month. Not that I am looking forward to turning 39 again. :)

Be sure to keep an eye on our website, and our Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ sites this month. We will be kicking off our annual picture contest. We'll have a prize for our first, second, and third place winners.

I hope you enjoy this month's issue of the ClausNet Gazette. As always, please feel free to contact us with your comments and suggestions.

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In The News

Breaking News on ClausNet

Arthur Rankin Jr, ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ co-producer dies, age 89

The Royal Gazette -- Broadcasting legend Arthur Rankin Jr — the animator, producer and director behind some of television’s most enduring holiday specials — has died in his 90th year following a bout of illness.

Bermuda’s own movie mogul, who cornered the market for Christmas specials with his US partner Jules Bass, passed away yesterday morning at his home by Harrington Sound. Starting in the early 1960s, Mr Rankin won the hearts of TV audiences with whimsical stop-motion animation. His company, Rankin/Bass Productions, created perennial classics such as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” that made broadcast history.

Born in New York City in 1924 to actors Arthur Rankin and Marian Manfield, Mr Rankin was a self-made filmmaker whose career spanned the history of the medium — starting as art director at ABC in the late 1940s.
Read More »

Soldier Returns from Afghanistan Early; Dresses Up as Santa Claus to Surprise Mom -- A 29-year-old Army soldier secretly returned to New Jersey from Afghanistan for the holidays and surprised his mother at her work’s Christmas party dressed up as Santa Claus.

Leslie Ruggiero, a nurse in a maternity ward, was presented with a letter from her son during the hospital’s holiday party, video from the event showed.

“It’s from my baby,” she said, tearing up.

Ruggiero, who believed her son was still in Afghanistan, got emotional as she read the letter.

“And where is he?” another person at the party asked.

“Afghanistan,” she responded.

Little did she know that her son was standing right behind her, dressed in a Santa costume that he had rented for the occasion.
Read More »

Advertising toys to children is fair play

Toy News Online -- In the same way that National Obesity Awareness Week kick-started a cavalcade of hand-wringing medical professionals seemingly hell-bent on banning ads to reduce the country’s rapidly expanding waistline, it seems the toy industry’s main event – the British Toy and Hobby Association's Toy Fair – has been enough of a peg on which to hang concerns over how toys are advertised, as evidenced from the BBC headline: Toy firms aim to get children hooked on brand loyalty.

Yes, the broadcaster that brought the world Tellytubbies seems to have a problem with toy companies that want to forge strong brand loyalty with... shock horror... their target audience. And as we gasp at the craven manipulation of the formative minds of our most vulnerable, let’s not forget the poor parents who may... bigger gasp... have to say ‘no’ to their progeny’s plaintive cries for more stuff.

Of course, I am being deliberately provocative. But this is a situation that inspires ridicule. Not least because without advertising to drive competition – and let’s heed the words of Natasha Crookes, director of the BTHA, here that "The toy sector is fast-moving and innovative, launching thousands of new products to market every year," – then won't the products themselves be far more expensive and hit parents even harder in the wallet?.
Read More »

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Featured Member - February 2014

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 Santa Stuart Australia!

When Santa Stuart visits with children, it's Summertime where he is! Santa Stuart comes to us from the southern hemisphere, or as they say, "down under" (sorry). Stuart is a relatively new member to ClausNet; joining us about a year ago now. Stuart joined ClausNet to learn about how to become a Santa Claus and he is off to a great start!

ClausNet Featured Member of the Month

We caught up with Santa Stuart a few weeks 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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Dreams of Children

By Ricky Claus

As dreams unfold in the eyes of children around the world, Santa is donning his suit and preparing his sleigh.

All the Reindeer ready for flight as the Eve's snow falls through the night.

Into the sleigh with jolly delight Ole Saint Nicholas is ready for his flight.

On Dasher, on Dancer, On Prancer, and Vixen, on Comet, on Cupid, now Donder and Blitzen.

Dash into the Christmas night, dash away, dash away all.

Cold is bitten on his cheeks making the rosy and meek.

Nestle in your beds one and all as Saint Nicholas brings the gifts of delight.

Leave your comment »

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The Rudolph Question

By Santa John Johnson

Every Santa Season we are asked about that one particular reindeer who’s known as the “most famous reindeer of all.” Everyone knows the other eight. But they are dismissed when it comes to that one little fellow with the glowing red nose – Rudolph. Thanks to a popular song by Johnny Marks, an RKO cartoon, and several Rankin Bass Christmas specials he has become as inseparable to Santa as the Jolly Old Elf’s big black boots. Rudolph is a part of the Christmas canon now, and there seems that there is no child worldwide that doesn’t know his name and story.

Rudolph was born in the mind of Robert L. May way back in 1939. May’s poem was used as an advertising blitz by Montgomery Wards – or “Monkey Wards” as they were popularly called. And the original story is very different than that of the little reindeer and his elven friend and dentist who travels to the Island of Misfit Toys. Copies are still readily available, and I suggest if you haven’t read it that you do. Rudolph and his story have been everywhere, even to the Hit Parade by both Gene Autry and Burl Ives respectfully. His has become one of the most recorded Christmas songs in history. Since Christmas 1939, Rudolph has been a part of every child’s visions of the Christmas Eve flight. Even at the age of 74, Rudolph still leads Santa’s team across the sky and into the hearts of children of all ages.

I have often pondered the role of Santa’s partner in relation to other companions he has in various incarnations across the globe. He is definitely less threatening than Krampus – the devil like figure of many Alpine countries who accompanies St. Nicholas and takes care of the naughty children. He is definitely cleaner than Schmutzli – the helper of Samischlaus in eastern Europe who not only carries the sack of goodies but also makes sure the chimneys are clean and children are behaved. He is much less controversial than Zwarte Piet or “Pete” – Sinterklaas’ helper in the Netherlands who assists him attired in black face paint and colorful clothes and has become a sign of racial prejudice. No, Rudolph’s presence is both practical and benevolent. Not only does he teach that differences are to be celebrated, but that everyone’s talents, no matter what they are, are relevant. Rudolph proves that being different is being great – a lesson that children of all ages can use.

While in the chair this past Christmas I was asked all about Rudolph by one little fellow who was eager to learn. I, of course, explained that Rudolph is doing very well and he does remain very active on foggy and inclement Christmas Eves. The youngster was very happy to hear that. Jokingly, I also said that he has become quite a snob thanks to the song and movies about him. I furthered the story by explaining that the elves can’t even get his autograph these days. The little fellow laughed. But I reassured them that Santa still loves him and all the other reindeer love him too. When asked how old the reindeer was I responded that this would be his 74th Christmas flight. The little fellow’s eyes grew large and he ran to tell his parents in his excitement. I am sure Rudolph would approve of this telling of his story.

Rudolph’s story and character hold something for everyone and are equally loved. So, remember to tell the little ones you meet about that dear of a deer and what he means to old Santa. His story is one that is inspiring and should be told. And when you are asked about your favorite cookie, be sure to remind the little ones to think of the reindeer. Rudolph loves an extra carrot – it helps his battery charge so his nose will glow even brighter through the Christmases to come!

Leave your comment »

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Santa's Wisdom

Happy New Year!

By Santa Lou Knezevich

One of your biggest challenges as Santa is the calming of a hysterical child and the quieting of over zealous parents. It’s not always easy and I’m hopeful a few of my tips may help you turn a frightened child into a “Santa’s Friend.”

I don’t profess to be a child psychologist or to be any kind of expert on how to handle children.

I have children of my own and I a lot of grand children to observe so I have learned a few lessons by “Life Experiences” that’s a fancy way of saying it was the trial and error method. which I hope you find useful and of help in your Santa experiences.

When I started out portraying Santa I thought every child would immediately love me and jump right up on my lap. Little did I know then that on any given day one or more children would have nothing to do with me.

At first I couldn’t imagine a child who was waiting to jump into my lap and eagerly tell me all their wishes would become hysterical as soon as I stretched out my arms to receive them.

What I know now is this: for whatever the reason there will be a child or two that no matter what you do they are going to have a meltdown. Three year olds especially are unpredictable and subject to swings of happiness or hysteria. 74% of Santa’s surveyed in a recent poll reported at least 10 crying children per day!

They are going to hush the crowd with their howling screams and any move on your part towards them is going to make them scream louder.

Some parents are going to make matters worst by physically placing the child in your arms or saying the cruelest things.. No disrespect to parents reading this but folks telling your child; “If you don’t sit on Santa’s lap he’s not going to bring you any toys for Christmas!” or “You don’t want to be on Santa’s “Bad list!” is not going to calm a hysterical child.

Parents can also be forceful as they shove a screaming child into your lap and expect you to magically wipe away the tears and bring out the best toothpaste smile a kid could have. Forget it parents, it isn’t going to happen.

Santa’s you need to take action to calm the situation as quickly as possible because a screaming child puts a damper on the group and focuses attention to the crying child. It may also affect other children who have fears and now this outburst triggers them to become frightened too.

I politely but firmly tell the parent(s) to move back away from me to where the child is in their “Comfort zone.” This is a distance where the child starts to calm down and maybe start to look at you.

You or a helper should tell the parents to have the child observe others seeing Santa which may serve to calm them down and maybe having done this they will try again. This may work but chances are the child may be too traumatized to change their frame of mind for that day.

There are opportunities to help children overcome their fears but you must be observant and patient. I learned a valuable lesson at a photo shoot quite by accident but I have used the principle successfully many times since then.

A large family group walked into the room for the photos with Santa. Only the three children were to have their pictures taken with me individually and as a group for the holiday greeting card pictures. Their ages were; a boy 7, a girl 5 and the baby sister of about 3 or so. All were dressed in their holiday finest and we were going to take some great pictures, except for the three year old.

The three year old stood off to the side and was not going to see Santa no matter what was said to her. Both brother and sister tried their best to convince her but to no avail. The parents and grand parents begged, pleaded and tried to bribe her but it wasn’t going to work.

When this family entered the room for the photos the father and grand father both told me she wasn’t going to take a picture and in fact she had already had a meltdown previously when seeing one of the more famous Santa’s in Town.

She was a beautiful little girl but now a sad sight as she sobbed away and tears glistened as they slowly rolled down her cheeks. I too was about to give up on any pictures or even conversation when I noticed she had a band aid on one of her fingers.

I said to her, “I see you have a band aid on your finger, what happened?” She didn’t reply right away so I said, “I’ll bet it hurt a lot and you must have been very brave.” She slowly raised her finger towards me and began the story of the band aid.

Her brother had closed a door in the house quickly and it had caught her finger. The brother had not intended to hurt her but her story by now was quite dramatic. I listened intently and every once in awhile I asked her to come a little closer, “Santa can’t hear what you said” or “Santa’s eyes aren’t that good could you stand here by me?” She was now standing by the inside of my knee.

I said, “Let me see that finger a little closer” and opened my palm for her to place her hand in mine. As I looked at her finger I said, “Why don’t you sit on my knee and we can talk about how brave you were.” From there we talked about what she wanted for Christmas and some beautiful smiles for the camera. She stayed right on my lap as the other children came in for the Christmas card picture and just before she left me Santa got the biggest hug and sweetest kiss on the cheek.

The parents and grand parents couldn’t believe what I had done. The grand father lingered after they were gone and came to thank me again telling me it was like watching a magical experience and he tried to tip me. Now, I’m not adversed to tips but I am compensated extremely well for this photo shoot so I declined the offer.

My reward was convincing this child to trust me and to make everyone happy with the photographs. Just remember it takes time, showing a genuine interest in the child and observing something about the child that will lead to a conversation.

As I have mentioned before always treat the child as you would an adult. Have respect and genuine interest in what the child says. Look into their eyes and see what the magic of Santa has done.

You can’t win them all, so don’t be upset if you don’t win over a child. Just remember it’s not your fault and next year that child will think you are the best Santa ever!

Santa Lou Knezevich
Creator Legendary Santas Mentoring Program

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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 Jay Long.

Jay LongFor over fifty years Jay Long has been portraying Santa Claus for children of all ages around the Kanawha Valley of West Virginia.

As an employee of the City of Nitro, West Virginia, (a World War I boom town) Long began visiting more than 100 families in their homes per week. On weekends he would visit hospitals, churches, and senior care homes.

Accompanied by his wife, Viola, Jay Long has been in thirty regional Christmas parades, visited countless businesses and organizations, helped with many charities, and even brought Christmas cheer to the Governor’s Mansion in Charleston, West Virginia. Everywhere he has gone he has left the love of Christmas and what it truly stands for, the birth of Jesus, with every child both young and old.

Today, he is active in the Nitro Church of the Nazarene along with other local charities to help the needy all year round. Jay Long, as Santa Claus and as himself truly embodies the spirit of Christmas all year long.

Jay Long
The Boom Town Santa
1938 - Current

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

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