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ClausNet Gazette: News from the Santa Claus Network

MAY 2016

Volume 8, Issue 5

Happy Mother's Day!

By Michael Rielly

Welcome to our May newsletter!

This weekend is Mother’s Day. I miss my mom. She died at 59 and as I get closer to that age, I find myself thinking of her more often.

My mother was ahead of her time. I tell everyone how she made superhero pajamas for my brothers and I back in the late 60s. She also painted our favorite characters on our pillow cases. If only she patented those and a hundred other of her ideas.

Mom also made my first Santa suit. I was 8. She made it from a red one-piece snow suit. Add some cowboy boots, her leather belt with the fancy metal buckle, a Santa hat, and some itchy whiskers glued to my face and I was ready to spread some Christmas cheer!

My mom loved Christmas! She would have made a great Mrs. Claus. She was always baking, sewing, and crafting. Every year she would make personalized Christmas Cards. She would spend hours drawing and coloring them. Each card was unique and included a starched crocheted snowflake. My mom was Martha Stewart before there was Martha Stewart.

All this and she had a full time job too! Mom was a Registered Nurse (RN) back in the day when nurses wore white uniforms and caps – folded and formed with the same starch she used on the snowflakes. Mom worked at the Rhode Island Veterans Home. Naturally around Christmas time she recruited me to visit with the residents on her ward.

Those visits were some of my first appearances as Santa Claus. I didn’t know it at the time, but visiting with those patient with my mom are now some of my fondest memories of portraying Santa Claus.

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

Zap! Pow! Yikes! City Council Corrals Costumed Characters

NYC Community Media -- The City Council has voted to give the Department of Transportation (DOT) authority over the many pedestrian plazas that have popped up in recent years, leading the costumed characters of Times Square, who worry about the new law’s impact on their activities, to look to legal action to protect their civil rights and livelihoods. And at least one prominent faux superhero has vowed defiance.

An artist’s rendering of the designated zones the DOT is likely to impose on Times Square. Image courtesy NYC DOT

On April 7, 42 of the Council’s 51 members voted to approve the pedestrian plaza bill introduced by Corey Johnson and Dan Garodnick, whose districts converge in Times Square.

“We need to bring some order out of the chaos in Times Square,” Garodnick said. “The costumed characters have become a black eye for New York City, and we need to crack down on the bad actors who ruin the edgy and exciting vibe that makes Times Square unique.

Following the council vote, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the pedestrian plaza bill into law on April 21.

“Our pedestrian plazas are popular among tourists and New Yorkers alike,” de Blasio said. “They attract business for the surrounding establishments and create a safe space where people don’t have to worry about oncoming traffic.”

The new law grants the DOT power to create regulations for the city’s 53 pedestrian plazas, including the heavily trafficked Times Square. A draw for locals, tourists, and costumed characters, the area will now include three kinds of zones to regulate conduct and traffic flow through the Crossroads of the World, the DOT said.

In their presentation before the Council’s Transportation Committee on March 30, department officials outlined a draft proposal that created pedestrian flow zones where foot traffic could pass through unimpeded, general use areas for events and sightseers, and “designated activity zones” where all commercial activities — including the photo-taking that costumed characters conduct with tourists in exchange for tips — would take place.

“We are putting into place, what we believe are constitutional safeguards to ensure that commercial activity can take place and pedestrians and tourists can move freely on these plazas,” Johnson said.
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Cumberbatch to Voice the Grinch in Remake

MyMerryChristmas -- Famed British actor Benedict Cumberbatch has been tapped to voice the Grinch in an animated remake of Dr. Seuss’ classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas, set to be released later next year.

Photo: My Merry Christmas

The last remake of the Grinch was met with mixed critical reviews and has failed to generate year-after-year loyalty viewing of the original made-for-television animated special. Producers of the new version hope to avoid disappointing fans.

“For me, in reading what Geisel wrote, I view it more from a character perspective. I think that the essence of this film is the notion of this cynicism comedically expressed in the Grinch and this absolute innocence represented in Cindy Lou, on a collision course with one another through the course of this movie.” producer Chris Meledandri said.

“It’s the simple question of whether or not innocence can transform cynicism. The beauty of that simplicity for me is what’s at the heart of the movie. In the experience of the movie I love the sort of wicked comedic aspect of this character the Grinch and I think that what you’ll see is from the very, very early animation tests, very raw, you’ll see that there’s an undeniable appeal in the character in spite of that kind of wicked persona, and I find that very, very, appealing and attractive.”

Like the 2000 remake directed by Ron Howard and featuring Jim Carrey, this new animated version will be a full length feature film.

That has some skeptical, especially with Meledrandri saying things like “We look forward to a global Christmas celebration with a movie that is both modern and classic”, which is code for Hollywood’s watered-down emphasis on the moral of the story replaced with something else. Don’t forget, this is the same production company that brought about the heavy handed moralizing of Lorax, an off-putting production based on a Seuss tale that some feel ended up being more of a message vehicle for the Earth First crowd.

Cumberbatch, however, is an inspired casting choice and should excel in the role. His voice is instantly recognizable to millions of fans who likely have never seen the 1966 original Grinch voiced by Boris Karloff.

That will never happen with the latest version of the memory-testing game, Simon Air, because motion sensors mean players never actually have to touch it while recreating complex patterns. Simon Air also introduces new actions and gameplay challenges, so there’s good reason to upgrade.
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Featured Member - May 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 Florida Kris Kringle!

Our Featured Member of the Month for May 2016 lives in sunny south Florida. Santa Keith, aka Florida Kris Kringle, has been Santa for the past 11 years. He joined the ClausNet Santa Claus Network back in December 2012 and has been an active contributor to the community ever since.

ClausNet Featured Member of the Month

We caught up with Santa Keith 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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The Ghost of Christmas Past, Present, and Future

By Dutch Schrap

Think for one second on how you would react to another Santa Actor encroaching your set. You would be highly upset. I have seen it happen first hand to myself, I’ve seen it talked about in online Santa groups and quite possibly – it has happened to you. How dare a child see a second Santa in the area of a set. That's one of the main Cardinal Rules of Santas! Never show up in the same location as another performer. It will ruin IT ALL for that child! I would wholeheartedly agree. It's a very sensitive topic. The audacity of that other Santa! He must not be a Professional! Right?

In March of 2009, I attended my very first Santa Claus convention in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. I was excited to meet fellow Santa friends that I knew for many, many years. All sorts of Performer's in the “Santa Industry” attended this epic event that included seminars, fun, fellowship, and a big parade through the town. That’s where it got awkward - for me. The parade.

Hundreds, upon hundreds of Christmas Performers marched all through town on St. Patrick’s Day in their respective groups. The parade was touted as the Holly and Shamrock parade and the streets were packed to the gills with spectators. I was one of the Santas to carry the lead banner in the parade. I truly had no idea what to expect until I turned that corner onto the main drag and saw everyone. Thousands of people. On the flip side, I’m guessing that the spectators had no idea what to expect either.

It was a huge public display of what should have always been a guarded hidden mystery of the legend of Santa Claus.

It was a fun day for us Performer's though, right? We had fun! We got our pictures taken. We got applause and smiles and kisses blown at us! Many of us asked the children, “Which one of us is the REAL Santa?” or “Have you seen the REAL Santa this week?” It was asked over and over and over again. Non-stop.

A few years later, I think it all hit me real hard. I was mortified that I could have ruined a child’s imagination of what the North Pole looked like. Did we change their perspective of Santa, the Elves, or Reindeer? Did one of these children find a handful of different Santa Actor business cards on their parent’s desk? Did I allow their childhood memories of Christmastime to be nothing like mine was? When I was a child, Santa lived at the North Pole with Mrs. Claus, a slew of Elves, Frosty, and nine reindeer. Period. What the hell did I just do?

Absolutely though, lots of children loved the parade.. Their eyes lit up, their parents loved it, the news media loved it, the performers loved it – I LOVED IT at the time. I guarantee you though a few parents and children didn't enjoy it. We did hear some rumblings here and there and I did see a few online comments on some of the news articles. Did it cause awkward conversation during dinner that night? How about months and months later on Christmas Eve? I am positive it did.

Did we cause the early demise of the world of make-believe for at least one child that day? I guarantee we did.

Fast forward six years to present – the Ghost of Christmas (St. Patrick's Day) Past is still haunting me. The parades and the very public gatherings of Santa Industry Performer's continue – maybe even more so – splintered off in small groups and wide spread all through our country. Press releases to news organizations, ads in the newspaper and social media all announcing Santas will be in town – basically begging the public and press to bring their cameras and kiddies to their events to see them (and to confuse them) no matter how many days until Christmas.

We NEED to stop this nonsense immediately. We need to bring these schools, gatherings and conventions BEHIND closed doors again. We don't need to parade around town or in a restaurant in our costumes or get ups - yes I used the word costume – dress or garb characteristic of another person - in front of the cameras and show each other up.

We all hear people say the world is changing too fast, and that children are growing up too fast. We have helped cause some of this without a doubt. We absolutely NEED to keep the mystery and belief alive for these children. What else is there anymore? I urge the organizers of these events to change their ways. Bring it back inside as a secret underground organization of goodwill and jolliness and for us to sing our songs, do the secret handshakes, and learn to be those mystical men we are supposed to be.

Santa can be found anywhere at all nowadays and at any time at all – complete with red and green. I knew many of men when I was a child with big white beards and I never thought once that they were Santa Claus. I knew in my heart where Santa lived. I knew Santa would arrive during the big Thanksgiving Day parade in the city, I knew I'd get one chance to see him at the Sears department store and maybe at our Cub Scout meeting or s party if we were really lucky. I knew with all of my heart and belief that Santa would head home to the North Pole on a sleigh pulled by nine reindeer after delivering his presents to the world. Why would I ever believe anything else? If I was a child nowadays – well, I'm glad I'm not.

Going back to my opening paragraph, do you see my point?

Think about this - really think about the children we serve. Are we doing the right thing for the children or are we doing the right thing for us?
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Santa's Wisdom

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

By Santa Lou Knezevich

It seems like we just concluded the past Holiday Season and here I am, talking about the forthcoming season. I was teaching a Santa school recently when I asked how many Santas were booked in the coming season. Only my hand and one other went up.

I understand some of the mall Santas had not completed contracts for the coming year.

I am at this point almost completely booked from the middle of October through Christmas Day. A few spots remain for clients who always wait to book at the last minute and a few openings for new clients. Many of my clients were booked as I left their parties last season. I must tell you it is a great feeling to see your calendar filled with work.

A few Santas have asked me how I obtain business and what I do to replenish my accounts. I thought about this and tried to find some tips I could pass along. It all boiled down to customer service, being pro-active and fulfilling expectations.

Book yourself for the next year’s season when you are discussing your upcoming visit. Usually, customers want to be sure they have a Santa so this should not be a problem, especially if you are a Santa who exceeds the expectation of your client. Don’t be hesitant about doing this as you have the perfect opportunity to secure this event.

How about starting your season in October? Even some of you who are mall Santas may be able to obtain photography work for Christmas pictures. Right now is a good time to call upon the local photographers and discuss that possibility. You should bring a few photos of you which show off your good costume or even a shot of you with a child. You want the photographer to imagine how they can take great Santa shots with you. Don’t forget. It’s not just about snapping a photo; it’s also about a private one on one visit with Santa.

Most photographers will allow you to place your business cards or an advertisement for the client’s information. This may lead to you being asked to do a house party or other events such as day care centers, golf country clubs and Home Owners Associations for their members.

Being pro-active is a big factor in getting and securing business. I don’t like the possibility of rejection when asking people for business, but Santa doesn’t dread asking repeat clients to re-book or talking to new clients. The “early bird does get the worm,” so keep that in mind as you build your business.

I don’t want to neglect an important factor which is: “fulfilling expectations of your look.” When I see some of your pictures posted on Facebook and from a client’s perspective, I play a little game when looking at you. I call it, “would I hire you?” Unfortunately, many of you need to pay attention to your appearance.

Your appearance and costuming need to look professional. Your beard needs to be trimmed and white, not yellow. Practice a warm smile and show your teeth.

If you don’t smile because you need dental work, by all means get it done. Please don’t sew your boot cuffs to the bottom of your trousers. You aren’t a circus clown.

You are Santa Claus. Remember the first 5 seconds someone sees you, determines if you’re accepted as Santa or you’re a Santa helper.

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

Santa Lou Knezevich
Creator Legendary Santas Mentoring Program

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Santa Claus Funnies #867 1957

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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 Cliff Snider!

In his real life, Cliff Snider assists hundreds of artists in the production and marketing of their talents. But there is more than meets the eye.

This husband, father, and grandfather has spent over forty-five years making spirits bright as Santa Claus. For Cliff this is a doubly important mission, for though he holds it important to bring smiles to children of all ages he also makes his true mission bringing the love of Christ to all he meets.

Known internationally as the “Praying Santa”, Cliff Snider has been seen in countless articles and news interviews about his portrayal of a truly Christian Santa Claus. These include CBN television’s 700 Club and in Our State magazine (North Carolina publication).

He has authored the book “Santa’s Journey”? which tells all about his life, adventures, and faith.

A 2012 winner of the “Keep Christ in Christmas”? award, Cliff is one of the most recognized Santa portrayers in America with his image being used by many notable artists.

Cliff Snider
High Point, North Carolina
1947 – Current

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

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