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ClausNet Gazette: News from the Santa Claus Network

MARCH 2016

Volume 8, Issue 3


By Michael Rielly

"Irish Snowman With Red Scarf Glass Ornament, Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland

Welcome to our March newsletter!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone and welcome to our March 2016 edition of the ClausNet Gazette!   I’m embracing my Irish half this month with the following Irish Blessing:

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Last month we announced a Santa Claus Toy Bag giveaway event. We are raffling off a custom designed Santa Claus Toy Bag graciously donated by Mrs. Claus, Eileen Strom. For a chance to win this beautiful Toy Bag, please visit for details.

Also, just a reminder, we are still looking for folks to help out around the site. If you are interested, please contact me or any of our staff.

We hope you enjoy this month's issue. As always, if you have any comments, suggestions or even complaints, please do not hesitate to contact us!

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In The News

Breaking News on ClausNet

So Many Costumed Characters Arrested in Times Square

New York Times -- As we've known for a while, nothing says "I'm visiting the Big Apple" quite like a posed photograph with a dude in a matted, fraying character costume in Times Square. And, as we've also realized, superheroes and Muppets are not about to give away such valuable souvenirs without anything in return.

Photo: New York Times

Yet one recent tourist apparently forgot about this quid pro quo. He got a real gem of a picture with Minnie Mouse, Cookie Monster, and Olaf, the snowman from Frozen — and then didn't pay up. That's when the Minnie-Cookie-Olaf trio dropped the friendly Disney façade, blocked the tourist's way, and boxed him in, apparently trying to extract $20, reports NBC 4. The tourist finally coughed up $10, but before the costumed goons could rough him up further, the cops stepped in and swept up all three on harassment charges.

This is not Minnie, Cookie Monster, or Olaf's first run-in with the law, but only insiders can say whether the same is true for the people sweating underneath those oversize heads. It also turns out those weren't the only Times Square lurkers arrested this week. The Daily News reports that a Batman-costumed performer was held by cops and cited Tuesday for disorderly conduct after being caught in an area outside his 42nd Street dominion, one where characters aren't allowed to solicit tips.

According to Batman, whose real name is Jose Escalona-Martinez, he was merely walking "like a tourist" — just a regular superhero among us. Escalona-Martinez, who also sometimes suits up as Spider-Man and once testified at a City Council meeting dressed like this, has been arrested twice since 2013; both times he filed suit against the city for unlawful arrest ($2 million, and $2.5 million, respectively). He and his lawyer told the News that they'll probably file another after this recent dust-up.
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Meet 'Torch', Hasbro's Fire-Breathing Animatronic Pet Dragon

Forbes -- Torch is a new animatronic dragon from Hasbro that breaths fire-like vapor, toasts marshmallows, talks and responds to touch.

Maybe I have a soft spot for cute animatronic animals (I blame growing up watching Gremlins and The Dark Crystal), but stand out product at the Hasbro New York Toy Fair booth for me was Torch the FurReal Friends pet dragon.

The toy will retail at $79.99 this fall and is suitable for children (and adults) over 4 years old. Like last year’s FurReal Pets star turn, Star Lily, Torch combines a range of technology to create a sense of personality and engagement.

Photo: Hasbro

He responds to your touch with a range of movements, sounds and lights. He has a light up mouth that illuminates when he growls and breaths what looks remarkably like fire — well a colored mist at least. The vapor creates the illusion of fire and can be used in conjunction with a plastic Marshmallow that changes color to toast and feed the food for Torch.

This all sounds a little complex and clunky but see Torch in action and it’s a pretty convincing pet. He has 50 different audio responses to a child’s interactions as well as a wide variety of motions. Sensors around his nose mean that he can respond to different touch queues and even recognize when he has been picked up for a cuddle.
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Modern children 'grow up too fast' for toys

BBC News -- Retro toys with a twist have been tipped to help sustain the UK toy industry's recent growth in 2016. But what happened to the makers of Welsh classics - such as Corgi Cars and Superted - which once were part of the engine room of Britain's toy trade?

The British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) has said the re-launch of many old favourites will boost sales in the UK.

Photo: BBC News

That is too late for the bulk of Wales' toy industry, which once employed thousands but has now "almost disappeared", according to experts. Hilary Kennelly, of the West Wales Museum of Childhood, said the industry has suffered from modern children "growing up too fast".
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Featured Member - March 2016

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 of the Month is Santa Allan Siu!

Our Featured Member of the Month for March 2016 hails from Dallas, Texas. Santa Allan Siu joined us way back in 2007, not long after ClausNet was launched!

ClausNet Featured Member of the Month

We caught up with Santa Allan 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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Bah! Humbug!

By Michael Rielly

Most are familiar with the phrase “Bah! Humbug!” made famous by the miserly character Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens:

“A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!” cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge’s nephew, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach.

“Bah!” said Scrooge, “Humbug!”

He had so heated himself with rapid walking in the fog and frost, this nephew of Scrooge’s, that he was all in a glow; his face was ruddy and handsome; his eyes sparkled, and his breath smoked again.

“Christmas a humbug, uncle!” said Scrooge’s nephew. “You don’t mean that, I am sure.”

“I do,” said Scrooge. “Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough.”

“Come, then,” returned the nephew gaily. “What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? You’re rich enough.”

Scrooge having no better answer ready on the spur of the moment, said, “Bah!” again; and followed it up with “Humbug.”

Many people mistake Scrooge’s use of the term “humbug” as an expression of his disgust or displeasure towards Christmas. But the word actually has a different meaning and provides a key understanding into Scrooge’s actual feeling towards Christmas.

The word “humbug” dates back to the mid-1700s, long before Dickens penned A Christmas Carol in 1843. There are many theories on its exact origin, but they all point back to a meaning of deception. According to the Online Entomology Dictionary Etymonline, “humbug” was often used to describe fraud or hoax.

Christmas joy made no sense to Scrooge. As far as he was concerned, the poor had no reason to be happy. So when Scrooge exclaims, “Bah! Humbug!” he is pointing out what he believes to be hypocrisy.

Scrooge believed that those who speak of the love and charity of the Christmas season are pretentious and insincere in their beliefs, deceiving themselves and others. For Scrooge, Christmas was a true “humbug”; a time for fake joy and celebration with no real substance or purpose.

A Christmas Carol is not the only literary use of the term “humbug” by Dickens. The word can be found in The Pickwick Papers, David Copperfield, and other novels. In L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), the word is used often. In the book, the Wizard describes himself as just "a humbug."

Perhaps the best example of “humbuggery” is the celebrated showman and entertainer, Phineas Taylor (P.T.) Barnum. Barnum proudly described himself as the "Prince of Humbugs”. Barnum was a master of humbug, a point he makes in his book Humbugs of the World (1866).

Barnum always maintained that his customers were not “suckers” but rather willing participants in his lighthearted pranks and hoaxes. “The people like to be humbugged”, he once said.

So the next time you wish someone a "Merry Christmas" and some Scrooge replies with: “Bah! Humbug!” just smile and say: Christmas is no hoax!
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Santa's Wisdom

One of my Santa Friends passed away

By Santa Lou Knezevich

I’m not writing an obituary here but a testament to a man who wore the “Red Suit” and personified the “Spirit of Christmas.”

I wish many of you reading this could have met Him. His name is David Allen Smith, and we shared our love of being Santa Claus.

David had a twinkle in his eye and it shined so brightly when he did anything involving Santa Claus. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend to all. He loved to tease me about my writing. Every time we met he chided me for not having written a book, which he thought I was fully capable of achieving. 

I have known Santa Dave for many years. In that time I never saw him post any self-indulgent pictures or patted himself on the back for something he did.

It seems lately on Facebook and other social media some Santas are thumping their chests like a gorilla. I laugh at the lengths some of you go by splicing together different commercials or venues to prove your capabilities.

You don’t do it once, you do this a number of times and justify it by saying, I was just thinking today. Yes, you were thinking, how to get another “Pat on the Back!” Your egos are so big you have lost the “Spirit of Christmas” and why you are a Santa Claus.

Santa Dave lived the “Spirit.”

A few days before Christmas he would go to a Wal-Mart and/or K-Mart and request to speak to the store manager. His request was to be taken to the “Lay Away” Department to see what items remained to be picked up. He knew that items waiting this long to be picked up were not going to bring Christmas Day happiness to children.

Through the years the store managers knew exactly what Santa Dave was there for. Santa Dave would pick out Lay Away items that were destined to be children’s Christmas gifts. Dolls, trikes, bicycles, games and even clothing were set aside. Santa Dave then paid for each Lay Away with the exception of one penny. The penny balance was a signal to the store employee to give a card at pick up with Santa Dave’s Picture which read in part, Merry Christmas from Santa Dave.

At the funeral one of the store managers told me she called people to pick up their Lay Away. People were stunned hearing they owed nothing except one penny. Some cried uncontrollably because their children would have a happy Christmas. She said she never witnessed such a loving act of kindness.

Santa Dave illustrates the humbleness of being a great Santa.  During the many years I knew him he never mentioned or bragged what he did for people at Christmas.

I hope a lesson is found in this article which may say “Big egos don’t make great Santas.”

p.s. I think paying for Lay Away items just before Christmas is a great idea for some of the local Santa and regional organizations to take on. If you’re looking for a project this might be for you.

Always remember, It's not about you, it's about the children.

Santa Lou Knezevich
Creator Legendary Santas Mentoring Program

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Statue of St Patrick, The Hill of Tara in County Meath, Ireland

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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 Tom Hartsfield!

Santa Tom Hartsfield is one of the 10 Santas who appeared in the 1994 OTTO Versandt commercial which launched the Real Bearded Santa phenomenon.

Hartsfield is the original Founder of the annual Santa Reunion Luncheon, which has spawned dozens of organizations, academies and conventions in the many years since. Hartsfield has appeared at many corporate, commercial, and private events during his decades of being Santa Claus.

He has also mentored many new and upcoming Santas in the fine art of being a professional Kris Kringle.

Tom Hartsfield
St. George, Utah
1938 - Current

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

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