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ClausNet Gazette: News from the Santa Claus Network

JUNE 2017


Happy Father's Day!

By Michael Rielly

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads and Granddads out there!

In honor of my Dad who passed away in 2013, here is an excerpt from an article I posted on LinkedIn. You can read the entire article here: Three Lessons My Dad Taught Me

Like most adolescents, growing up my brothers and I thought we knew more than our parents. But of course now that I'm a Dad, I have come to realize the wisdom of my parents. Now don’t get me wrong. Growing up in our house was no TV sitcom. And our Dad was no Ward Cleaver or Mike Brady. No. Growing up, our Dad was more like R. Lee Ermey.

Dad served several years in the U.S. Air Force; not as a drill instructor, but some days it sure felt like it. He was pretty hard on us. Of course we didn’t appreciate it then -- but it made my brothers and I who we are today. Dad helped us become good husbands and good fathers. He helped us become men.

Work Hard: Dad strongly believed in the importance of hard work and had zero tolerance for laziness. In our house there was no sleeping in. You always had something to do. If not, you were assigned something pretty quick. To this day I have never slept past 7AM.

My brothers and I each had assigned chores, but we were never paid to do chores. If you wanted extra money, you worked for it. At 10 years old, I was cutting lawns, cleaning out garages, and shoveling driveways. At 14, I was painting apartments. By 15, I was able to buy my first car with my own money. It was an incredible sense of accomplishment. These jobs taught me early on that success requires hard work.

New Look!

You may have noticed this month's issue is sporting a new look. We've cleaned it up a bit and enlarged most of the images. We are in the process of transitioning to a new format for the newsletter. Hopefully soon it will be much easier to read on tablets and other mobile devices.

Help Wanted

We are still looking for a few folks to help around the workshop here on ClausNet. If you are have some spare minutes in your day and would like to volunteer, please contact me. We welcome any help we can get.

We hope you enjoy this edition of the ClausNet Gazette! Remember, if you have a product you would like to promote or a story that you would like to share, please feel free to contact us!

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In The News

Breaking News on ClausNet

Relics of Saint Nicholas, the REAL Santa Claus, leave Italy for the first time in 1000 years -- Relics of the fourth-century saint Nicholas, who inspired the beloved figure of Santa Claus, have left Italy for the first time in nearly 1,000 years, arriving in Moscow for veneration by the Russian Orthodox Church.


The remains of St. Nicholas have been housed in the southern Italian city of Bari since 1087, when they were brought over from present-day Turkey by a group of Italian merchants.

In what is being described as “a historic event,” a “gesture of love and peace” and a “seed of ecumenism,” relics of the saint have left Bari for the first time in 930 years, transferred to Moscow where the sainted bishop of Myra is especially loved.

A five-inch bone fragment from the saint’s rib was deposited in a a golden reliquary adorned with precious stones and bas reliefs that recount the life and miracles of Nicholas. The relic arrived in Moscow on a special flight from Italy on Sunday afternoon and will stay there for a week before being transferred to Saint Petersburg, and eventually back to Italy.

The sharing of the relic is being touted as fruit of the historical encounter between Pope Francis and Russian Patriarch Kirill in Cuba, just prior to the Pope’s visit to Mexico in February 2016

Nicholas was born during the third century in the village of Patara, which at the time was part of Greece and is now part of Turkey. He became the Bishop of Myra while still a young man, being known for his generosity to those in need. His reputed habit of giving gifts, often in secret, gave rise to the legend of Santa Claus – a variant of Saint Nicholas. The iconic red hat and coat were taken from the bishop’s vestments that Nicholas was believed to wear.
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Santa: My paychecks sleigh

New York Post -- Being Santa isn't always the jolliest or even the most dignified position.

"I even had a supermodel break wind on my lap and Dolly Parton pinch my backside one Christmas Eve," three-time Macy*s Santa Glen Heroy, a 54-year-old New Yorker, tells The Post. And yet despite all the grossness and drama, there are plenty of guys who say that donning the red suit is good for the heart --- and the soul --- and sometimes even the wallet.


Drug testing, background checks, insurance policies, thousand-dollar outfits, routine beauty salon visits and staying in character when peed, pooped and thrown up on are all part of a day’s work for the modern-day professional Santa Claus, but the payoff — both emotionally and monetarily — can be great.

Tim Connaghan, a 68-year-old from Kings Park, New York, has not only worked part-time as a Santa for decades, but also founded a program for continuing Santa education and a booking service for St. Nicks, is all in on the Christmas spirit. “$10,000 to $12,000 in a four- to six-week season is pretty decent money,” he says. “If they work beyond the season or do commercial or print work, it can be a lot more.”.
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Town of Santa Claus featured in new travel book --The town of Santa Claus is featured in a new travel book called “100 Things to Do in America Before You Die.”

The book, by travel writer Bill Clevlen, was written to inspire road trips across the country. It not only offers suggestions on what to do and where to go, but it will also keep you and your loved ones busy on the drive between places with trivia questions on every page. The book includes a mix of history, entertainment, art, food, sports, and even places to cross off your “selfie” bucket list.

Credit: Enchanted America

Clevlen will visit Santa’s Lodge in Santa Claus at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 10 as part of his national book tour. He will share travel stories, play trivia games with those in attendance and sign copies of his new book. Clevlen is a broadcaster and national travel writer based in St. Louis.

He appears on radio stations across the country and hosts a podcast called Rediscover America. He’s a member of the Midwest Travel Journalists Association and host of the Mid-America EMMY Awards.
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Featured Member - June 2017

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 Maui Santa!

Mele Kalikimaka! Our featured member of the month for June 2017 comes to us from the Great State of Hawaii! Santa Ross aka Santa Maui joined the ClausNet Community in January 2016.

ClausNet Featured Member of the Month

We caught up with Santa Bob 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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Brief History of Räuchermänner

By Michael Rielly

The German Nussknacker (Nutcracker) is a timeless symbol of the Christmas season. Originating near the Erzebirge regions of Germany, decorative Nutcrackers in the form soldiers, knights, and kings have existed since the late 17th century.

A close cousin to the Nutcracker is the Räuchermänner. Commonly known as “Smokers” or “Smoking Men”, Räuchermänner are similar to Nutcrackers in that they are both colorful, carved wooden figures and both originate from Erzegebirge. However, instead of cracking nuts, Räuchermänner are used to burn incense known as Räucherkerzchen. Literally meaning "little smoking candle", a Räucherkerzchen is a small cone of incense burned at Christmas time.

The emergence of Räucherkerzen goes back to the use of frankincense in Catholic liturgy. The Räucherkerzchen are made from the resin of the frankincense tree, mixed with charcoal, potato flour, sandalwood and beech paste. The substances are ground and mixed into a moist dough, then shaped into a cone and dried. Räucherkerzchen come in a wide variety of fragrances ranging from traditional Christmas scents like, frankincense, myrrh, cinnamon, and balsam to the more exotic like sandalwood, honey, and others.

Unlike Nutcrackers, which tend to represent political, military, or religious figures, Räuchermänner traditionally resemble common folk such as: shepherds, farmers, bakers, carpenters, chimney sweeps, and other tradespeople. Over the years, these figures have evolved into a wide variety of styles. Today Räuchermänner can be found in all sorts of variations, especially Christmas themes such as Santa Claus, Elves, and Snowmen. The Räuchermänner is made up of two pieces that fit together to create one body. The upper part of the body is hollow so that an incense cone can be placed on top of the lower half of the body. When the incense is lit, smoke then billows out of a hole carved in the mouth to resemble a man smoking a pipe.

Its nostalgic charm has made the Räuchermänner a Christmas tradition in Germany for hundreds of years. Unlike their Nutcracker cousins, who are often depicted as bearish and grim faced, Räuchermänner seem friendlier; almost jovial. But perhaps what has made the Räuchermänner so popular is that these little wooden figures represent the work of the common man.
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Santa's Wisdom

Approaching the Halfway Mark

By Santa Lou Knezevich

As I write this article my Santa calendar is a startling reminder of the approaching Holiday Season!

Last season I felt and I was not prepared. I don’t know what happened to time and good intentions, they both escaped me. I don’t know if you ever felt this way but it is frustrating. My Mother told me many times, “The older you are, the faster time goes by.” My dear Mother was so right. I understand now more than ever because my tomorrows are so much shorter then my yesterdays.

It seems we just put our Santa Suit away and it’s time to start thinking ahead to avoid a last minute rush. In my case, I sat down and created a “Things to Do List.” I found this to be helpful in seeing what I need to do and is helpful in segmenting tasks into groups and time frames. You can’t eat an elephant at one sitting but you can accomplish the task one bite at a time.

Your list might contain some items such as:

Check your buttons. Don't forget to sew on any buttons you may have lost last season. Also, you may wish to tighten all your buttons. Last season I lost buttons on my jacket, pants suspenders, and my poet shirt.

Is your apparel in good shape? It’s too late in November. End even now, seamstresses are working hard to fill orders.

Check your props. Is your “Night before Christmas” story book in good condition? Many times I leave this book with the child of the house with a message from Santa written on the inside cover. You can often find them at the Dollar Store!

Do you need to order any giveaways? Are there some props you need such as “D’lights,” reindeer ears, or new gloves? Order soon to avoid finding out items are “out of stock.”

Put your Santa calendar together now. Know the “What, When, and Where” of each day you are performing. It’s not too early to call clients and potential clients to “lock in” performance dates. Your calendar is very important and without it you’re lost. I have it in my computer however I frequently print hard copies which I have with me concerning my event information.

Don’t leave home without it. You need to take your wallet however there’s a bunch of things that may come in very handy. Find a bag or kit to put in things you may need such as; bottled water, medications, breath mints, sewing kit, hand wipes, power bars, towel, aspirin, extra gloves, etc. In essence, this is a survival kit which you may keep on a mall set, take into a home visit or in your auto.

I also keep some loose change and a few bills for a “just in case moment.” When I do photoshoots, I also bring along sandwiches, fruit, and some sports drinks to keep hydrated. How you create your survival kit is your choices however make sure to include first, those things necessary to your performance.

I also carry extra suspenders because I changed at a venue and forgot to bring my suspenders. Whenever I had to walk my elbows were tucked into my hips praying my pants would stay up.They did and now even if I leave the house in costume I have checked each item to remember before I leave.

New Ideas. Now is the time to start formulating what you will say and do when a child is on your lap at a mall, house visit, or other event. The point I’m making was driven home by a cute little girl on my lap. I had over a few years developed a story about a gaily wrapped box I was leaving under the Christmas tree for the child I was talking too. The story was believable and on occasion I would see a mom with a tear in her eye because that story was bringing Christmas magic to that child.

A season or so back I was telling this story to this young girl on my lap and when I started to explain how I would wrap this present the young lady exclaimed; “You told me that story last year!” Can you imagine my surprise and wonderment at the situation I was in? I think I mumbled something like, “that’s right now I remember.” She quickly went on to say “it was a cell phone” just the surprise she wanted so much. I dodged a potentially embarrassing situation. However, the lesson I learned was to not tell the same story to the same group again! It also made me a better story teller with a number of presentations for the group I’m working with.

I’m looking forward to this season as I have already worked on some new entertainment ideas which I know my repeat clients and others will enjoy. I’m fortunate I “book up” early and I have a waiting list. This has happened because through the years, I have worked hard to make each visit with a child or adult a magical experience.

Being Santa is a never ending process of developing your character in the expectations of those who see you, and then some

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

Santa Lou Knezevich
Creator Legendary Santas Mentoring Program

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International Santa Claus Hall of Fame

Each month we feature an inductee of the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame.

This month we honor Haddon Sundblom!

Since the artist known as “Sunny” painted the iconic Santa Clauses for the Coca-Cola Company, beginning back in the 1930s, Santa portrayers the world over had tried to emulate the iconic look that he created.

Born to a Swedish family, Haddon Sundblom studied his craft at the American Academy of Art. From there he began to create paintings with such warmth and style that he was a natural choice for many advertising agencies and products, including Coca-Cola.

Sundblom’s Santa solidified the modern image of Santa Claus. In classic red and white, his larger than life representation of the warm, gentle Santa was different to the other interpretations of the time. These vibrant, lifelike paintings were an instant hit with the general public.

Though he is most remembered for these wonderful illustrations, he also created Sprite Boy for the Coca- Cola Company and the famous Quaker Oats Man.

For his works, Haddon Sundblom has a solid place as one of the 20th Century’s most influential painters of popular culture.

Haddon Sundblom
Chicago, Illinois
1899 – 1976

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

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