Well here we are April already! Although you wouldn't know that around here. It's still pretty cold where I live and we even had snow just a few days ago! The poor crocus are so confused! Hopefully the weather will start warming up soon!
Last month we announced the winners of our Short Story Contest. We had some great entries! As I mentioned in last month's newsletter, Santa Steve Marshall won First Place for his entry: "The Night I Met Santa". Santa Craig Imboden landed Second Place for "He is Real if You Believe" and in close Third Place was "My Christmas Adventure" by Sinter Klass. Congratulations to all our winners and thank you all who participated! You can read Santa Steve's short story in this newsletter. To read all our entries, visit the Contests and Events section on ClausNet.com.
I hope you enjoy this month's issue of the ClausNet Gazette! As always, if you have any comments, suggestions or even complaints, please do not hesitate to contact us!
Defend Christmas.com -- A Republican lawmaker from Houston has introduced legislation to protect traditional Christmas greetings, decorations and displays in Texas public schools. The bill is appropriately titled, “Merry Christmas Bill.”
This week Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) filed Senate Bill 665 to protect Texas public schools’ ability to use traditional holiday greetings such as ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Happy Hanukkah’ on school grounds and to educate students about the history and roots of such holidays.
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Defend Christmas.com -- The many Christmas light fights across America we have been documenting include a minor skirmish in the township of Elyria, Ohio where an elderly woman displaying a dozen strands of soft white and colored lights received a written threat about her display in mid-February.
The writer of the threat has been identified and arrested by local police.
Rose Marie O’neal stays with her elderly mom to care for her and keep her company. This Christmas she was feeling extremely grateful for all of her blessings and strung Christmas lights across the bushes and trees in her mother’s front yard.
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Defend Christmas.com -- Another battle in the war on Christmas appears to be over as the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court has ruled that a student can distribute flyers to a church Christmas party at school. We reported on this story more than a year ago as the incident involving a student known only as K.A. attempted to distribute a flyer inviting her classmates to her church Christmas party.
The student was denied the right do that based upon a school policy requiring approval of the school principal. When the student sought approval she was denied on the basis that her flyer violated the district’s policy barring material that “seeks to establish the supremacy of a particular religious denomination, sect or point of view”. The lawsuit that was brought forth cited violation of the student’s first amendment rights of free speech.
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TheHotToys.com -- Hasbro has introduced a new Furby MouthOff app which enables fans to talk just like their toy. The app is currently available to download for iOS and Android devices.
Users can swap their mouth for a Furby mouth of their choice. They just need to simply select a mouth from those available on the app, hold the phone in front of their mouth then talk, shout, laugh or sing and the Furby mouth will animate in time with the sounds.
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Toy News Online -- Toys R Us has dropped plans for an IPO, citing unfavorable market conditions and executive leadership transition as reasons.
The retailer also posted disappointing Q4 and 2012 full year results.
For the fourth quarter, the total company reported net sales of $5.8 billion, a decrease of $155 million compared to the prior year. Excluding the impact of foreign currency translation, net sales decreased $114m.
Read More »
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 ClausNet.com. This is a great way to get to know your fellow ClausNet members!
This month our featured ClausNet Member is FuzzyFootFarm!
Our Featured Member of the Month for April 2013 is Santa Tony aka FuzzyFoorFarm.
Santa Tony Porter aka FuzzyFootFarm joined us way back in 2007 -- only a months after we launched ClausNet! Not many Santas here actually own real reindeer. But Tony has. At one point Tony had the largest herd of privately owned reindeer in Ontario! His reindeer appeared in several movies including Prancer Returns and The Night Before Christmas!
We caught up with Tony 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!
“Time to start getting ready for bed!” I heard my mom call.
It was 8:30 Christmas Eve, there was a fire crackling in the fireplace, and the house smelled like a mixture of a pine forest and fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.
“Start getting ready for bed?!” I thought. “How am I ever going to get to sleep when Christmas is right around the corner?”
I went and took my bath, brushed my teeth, even between the two front ones that were missing, got into my pajamas and combed my hair, just in case. I knew that Santa only brought presents to good girls and boys and this was no time to take a chance of missing out on a technicality!
I jumped into bed and my mom and dad both came upstairs to say good night. My dad read me the Night Before Christmas storybook and tucked me in assuring me that, he too, had no idea what a sugarplum was and that I was more likely to have visions of video games dancing in my head that night. I said my prayers, my mom gave me a kiss, and then they left my room closing the door behind them. “Make sure you go to bed early too!” I yelled out after them, “Santa can’t stop until everyone is asleep!” “OK,” yelled my dad, “we will!”
Soon after that I saw the hall light go off and heard my parents bedroom door shut. I felt relieved, pulled my covers over my head, and settled in for my long winter’s nap.
My eyes were heavy and, even though I was so excited, I soon drifted off to sleep.
All of a sudden I woke up! Was I really hearing something on the roof? Then I heard something downstairs. I decided to go down and investigate. As I tiptoed past my parent’s bedroom I could hear my dad snoring loudly and knew he wouldn’t wake up.
Slowly I crept down the stairs, my heart pounding faster with each step I took.
Then I saw him, I couldn’t believe my eyes, was that really Santa Claus standing in my living room? I took one more step and “CREEAAAK!” “Oh no,” I thought. “That squeaky step. Why hadn’t dad fixed that? Why oh WHY?!”
Next thing I know I was standing face to face with the man himself… Santa Claus!
“Well, hello little Stevie,” he chuckled. “I was expecting you.”
I didn’t know what to say! I was supposed to be asleep! Would I still get presents? Was I still on the “good” list?
“Ho Ho Ho,’ Santa laughed. “Don’t worry, every little boy and girl gets to meet me on Christmas Eve at one time or another. Are you ready for the adventure of a lifetime?”
“Ye… ye… yes,” I stammered. “Good!” he said. And he laid his finger on his nose.
Next thing I know, it was snowing in my living room! But I wasn’t cold at all. Then the lights on the tree got really bright and the walls of our living room seemed to just melt away.
“Come on little Stevie!” shouted Santa. “We don’t have much time!”
We jumped into his sleigh and took off into the night.
“Where are we going?” I said. “You’ll see,” chuckled Santa Claus.
We flew through the air at lightning speed and I could see a red light in the distance. I thought it was a warning light on a tower but it seemed to move and get brighter. Just then I realized that the head reindeer was turning to wink at me. “Rudolph” I shouted, and off we went. I was excited that I was going to help Santa deliver all the big presents in his sleigh but we seemed to be flying over so many big houses, why weren’t we stopping?
Suddenly Santa said, “Here we are” and landed the sleigh in the front yard of a small older dimly lit house. I was afraid but Santa gave me a wink of his eye and just a twist of his head and let me know I had nothing to dread. (“Nothing to dread?” Why was I thinking in words like this?)
We went into the house and the mom and dad were sitting on an old couch in front of a very small Christmas tree. The mom started to cry when she saw Santa and the dad just looked at him with his mouth wide open. Santa went and filled all the stockings, there were 5 of them, and put the presents under the tree. Then he reached into his bag and brought out food too. We looked in on the 5 kids sleeping, none of them had their own bed, and we started out the door. “God bless you Santa” called the mom. “God bless you too, and Merry Christmas” said Santa, and we were off once again in the sleigh.
For the next few hours we flew so many places at lightning speed delivering toys and food to people who didn’t have houses as nice as my family’s and we went to hospitals where children had to stay, even on Christmas Eve. I realized that Santa was giving me a very special present that Christmas Eve, The gift of thankfulness for my family, my home, and all the wonderful things we had.
We flew back to my house and I go out of the sleigh. Santa knelt down next to me and said, “Little Stevie, one day some people might tell you that I am not real. You must never believe them. Remember tonight, the places I took you, and keep that in your heart. No matter how old you get remember to help people that are less fortunate than you are and be truly thankful for what you have in your life. In this way I, and the wonderful and glorious spirit of Christmas will live on forever.”
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I am still what most would consider a "newbie" to portraying Santa Claus. I have had Santa in my heart since I was a young boy, and have always felt it better to give then to receive. In fact, I have spent my whole life supporting charitable organizations and doing good things for others, especially the less fortunate. Portraying Santa was a natural fit for me.
After a great Christmas personally, and in my role of Santa, I made the decision to put a great deal of effort into doing more appearances and bringing joy to as many people as I could. I had a new focus. I would take the money from my paid gigs and use it in a non-profit I would form so that I could help as many needy and sick children as possible have a wonderful Christmas. So, I began searching the Internet for ideas that would help me with my plans. This is when I discovered ClausNet, and what a tremendous resource this has been for me, and so many others. I have learned more here in the last three months or so then I could have probably anywhere else in that short period of time.
2013 started off great, with the launch of my website, forming my 501©(3) non-profit, enrolling in the International University of Santa Claus, and registering for the Jim Yellig Workshop. I spent countless hours working on marketing, small but much needed additions to my suit, and making the transition to a real bearded Santa. Everything was going great and I was well on my way...or so I thought.
On February 7th, after returning home from a business trip, my Wife welcomed me home with "I want a divorce." I felt like I was just kicked in the stomach, and was devastated. I walked around for the next few days in a daze, wondering how I was going to recover from and deal with this. I felt like things could not get much worse, but I was wrong. Just thirteen days later I lost my job, and at fifty-six years old, I suddenly found myself with no income and no way to support myself. All of this on top of needing to pack up my life and find a new place to live. All I could feel was the desire to drive off the road into a tree. The only light I saw at the end of the tunnel was the train heading straight for me.
With two upcoming trips planned (Santa Tim's School in Richmond and the JYW), my heart told me one thing, and my mind told me another. Common sense would have been to cancel, but airline tickets were booked and non-refundable, and other expenses were already paid. Still, there would be money I would have to come up with for food, lodging, etc. The month between all the bad news and my first trip was painful to say the least.
Traveling to Richmond to attend the International University of Santa Claus was the first of two events to help snap me back into reality. I met such a great group of men and women, and Santa Tim is obviously passionate about helping others. It did wonders to be around such positive people and to get my mind off all my troubles. I left more excited than I have been in a while, and could not wait to travel to Santa Claus, Indiana to attend the Jim Yellig Workshop.
My arrival and time in Indiana was everything I could have expected. I personally met so many of the people I've had the pleasure of getting to know here on ClausNet. People like Santas Craig, Everett, Pirate, Kona, Dave, and so many others. It was great seeing all my fellow Palm Tree Santas and to meet the legendary Phil Wenz. Being around all these people, and the new friends I met there was exactly what I needed both personally, and as a fellow Santa.
Spending the weekend in Santa Claus only reassured me that I was doing the right thing, and the support I received was nothing shy of spectacular. My time there was well spent and I was in a great mood the whole time I was there. Suddenly it felt that the light at the end of the tunnel was no longer a train, but truly a light guiding me towards a glorious future.
I returned home yesterday extremely happy and broke, but in some ways feel like the richest man in the world. So, to all my fellow Santas, the Mrs. Clauses, elves, and others who have chosen this path, you have my sincere thanks. Without you it would be very difficult to get out of bed each morning. You have all truly made a difference in my life, and for that I thank you!
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By Santa Lou Knezevich
“Mirror, mirror on the wall; what Santa takes the best picture of them all?” Now of course you all replied, “I do!”
To be a popular subject with photographers you will need to come up with poses not usually done by other Santa’s. Before I start a photo shoot I discuss with the photographer what is expected of me, where I should be on the set and any special circumstances concerning their clients. I also go over any special posses, props or “Signals” to each other for “Special shots.” I have listed below some examples of ‘Special shots” but I encourage you to invest in some preparation time which goes a long way producing great photos.
Santa’s got a Secret I sit the child on my right knee. (Use you’re left knee if more comfortable) Then after some conversation and photos I ask the child if I can tell them a secret. (I also give the pre-arranged signal to the photographer) Their head faces the camera or I’ll maneuver them so their face and mine are towards the camera but I don’t look at the camera. I cup my hand near their left ear and say, “I want you to smile the biggest smile ever when I tell you this secret.” “Are you ready?” “You are going to have one of the best Christmases you ever had.” or “Look at the camera and smile real big when I tell you this secret.” “Be sure to look under the tree on Christmas morning for some neat surprises.” This gives the photographer some time to snap away and to catch some great poses.
Tell me Your Secret This is a variation of the “Santa Secret” except I ask the child to whisper in my ear the one most important gift they want for Christmas. I usually have a hand signal for the photographer so they know what I’m trying to do. I’ve gotten some of the best pictures this way and I can hear the oohs and ahs of the parents when the shutter snaps.
Now there are children who are very affectionate to Santa and allow opportunity to pose some very friendly pictures. I pose these children in a number of ways. Some I wrap my arms around (I make sure my hands are proper and showing) the child and ask them or pose their hands over my coat sleeve. This pose also allows me to have my head next to the child’s almost cheek to cheek. We can also look at each other and I have an opportunity to show expressions such as; surprised, whimsical or questioning. Sometimes I ask the child to “Give Santa a hug” and this produces a spontaneous picture which again brings out the oohs and ahs.
Babies are a scream, well some times they really scream and there isn’t much you can do to stop them. When they are cooperating there are a few poses that are sure to be Grandma’s favorites. I made some gold colored “S’s” which fit across the instep of my boots. If the baby is old enough to support themselves I put them between my legs so the pose is from my knees to the floor. This is one of the cutest pictures to see a baby between Santa’s boots. Another pose is to hold the baby in my arms, holding it high enough so they are looking over my shoulder. The photographer is behind me and captures the shot of baby, my Santa hat and white hair. In both of these shots my face is not seen but my costume and accessory’s make no mistake about who’s in the picture.
I always feel badly for the child whose parents are insistent they must take a picture with Santa. The poor child is frightened, with fear on their face and tears running down their cheeks. Of course the parents are insuring there will be no picture by threatening “Santa isn’t going to bring you any toys unless you take a picture with him.” Well folks, it’s been my experience that this photo opportunity is not going to happen. There isn’t much you can do in these situations and I never try to force a photograph when a child is traumatized. Sometimes when an upset child won’t sit in my lap I can salvage a photo opportunity by asking the parents to hold the child in front of them facing the camera. As the child calms down I will quietly come up behind the parents for a “Family Picture.” I try to add something “Extra” by posing with my finger across my lips, a surprised look or outstretched hands with my gloves at the shoulders of the parents. It may not be the picture the parents hoped for but it will be a lasting memory of a visit to Santa.
Adults love to pose with Santa and you should encourage them at every opportunity. When I pose with a lady regardless of age or even a man I have a little patter to break the ice. I’ll stand right next to the person and in a hushed tone say, “I need to tell you something before we take this picture.” Of course the person just can’t imagine what it could be. Then I say; in my best Santa voice and pointing my fore finger at them; “Now, there’s one condition you need to know about when taking a picture with Santa.” Usually this statement makes the person wonder and have a serious expression on their face. Then I say with a smile while opening my arms in a welcoming gesture; “You’ve got to act like you really like Santa.” Maybe it’s because the request is so simple and everyone likes Santa but an immediate response is a smile, hug, laugh or kiss upon my cheek and “Flash” a great picture is snapped.
Ok Santa’s, “Mirror, mirror on the wall now what Santa takes the best picture of all?” “I do!”
For more information on the Legendary Santa Mentoring Program, please contact Santa Lou Knezevich.
Santa Lou Knezevich
Creator Legendary Santas Mentoring Program
Each month we feature an inductee of the Santa Claus Hall of Fame. This month we honor Mickey Rooney.
Mickey Rooney is best known as a motion picture actor and entertainer whose film, television, and stage appearances have made him a true American treasure.
This legendary entertainer has been awarded an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement, a Juvenile Oscar that he shared with Deana Durbin, one Emmy, as well as five Oscar and five Emmy nominations.
Mickey began his long association with Santa Claus in 1969 when he voiced the character for the Rankin/Bass animated, stop action classic Santa Claus is Coming To Town. He subsequently voiced the character of Santa again in The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974), Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July (1979), The Happy Elf (2005), and A Miser Brother's Christmas (2008).
With the Mickey Rooney Charities Foundation, he has carried on the work of Santa Claus by giving to others. In both word and deed Mickey Rooney is indeed the Voice of Santa Claus.?
1920 - Current
Want to learn more? Check out the following: