As I write this on the day before Independence Day, I find myself thinking of my grandfather. As most you know my grandfather Jim Rielly, was best known as Rhode Island's Santa Claus. But what you may not know is he was also our town's official Town Crier.
The Bristol Rhode Island Annual Fourth of July Celebration, established in 1785, is the oldest continuous celebration of its kind in the United States. The Celebration officially starts on Flag Day, June 14th, and concludes with a 2.5 mile Military, Civic, and Firemen's Parade on July 4th. Dressed in Colonial garb, the Town Crier kicks off the Patriotic exercises and then leads the parade through the streets of downtown Bristol.
My grandfather truly loved this town and took the role of Bristol Town Crier as seriously as he did Santa Claus. Our current Town Crier (also a Santa Claus) took over the role sometime after my grandfather passed away.
In June, I was asked to march alongside this year's Chief Marshal. The Chief Marshall's Division is at the very beginning of the parade and immediately follows the Town Crier -- steps away from where Papa would lead the parade all those years.
I hope you enjoy this issue o the ClausNet Gazette and as always, please feel free to contact us with your comments and suggestions.
Christmas Newswire -- On the heels of passage of Texas’ Merry Christmas Bill the state of Missouri recently tried to do something similar — and the bill got vetoed. Missouri House Bill 278, sponsored by Republican state representative Rick Brattin was simply worded: Prohibits any state or local governmental entity; public building, park, or school; or public setting or place from banning or restricting the practice, mention, celebration, or discussion of any federal holiday.
While the bill doesn’t expressly mention Christmas everyone knows this is what he is talking about.
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Irish Voice Reporter -- In hard times, even Santa Claus must feel the pinch. That's the timely message behind "Santa and the Recession," a new children's book written and illustrated in Ireland.
As portrayed by co-authors Eithne Diamond and John Gallagher, the recession is represented by a big, ugly blue monster that eats houses, piggy banks and children's toys, frightening away several of Santa's Elves, and threatening to ruin Christmas for millions of kids the world over.
"In the middle of the room sat a strange-looking monster," we quote from the text. "It had blue fur, big teeth and sharp claws. Worse still, it was busy eating the children's toys! 'Oh no! It's a recession!' screamed Santa, and he called all his Elves to chase it away."
What, this pointedly satirical little book asks, will all the boys and girls do on Christmas Day when there's nothing under the tree to play with? That's a question many anxious parents are secretly asking themselves this month..
Read More »
News-Sentinel -- One would think that Santa Claus would be so used to climate at the North Pole that the last place he would want to hang out would be Downtown Lodi on the last day of June.
But Santa was seen on School Street during Sunday's Lodi Cyclefest. Santa was dressed as one Bob Korock, representing Fields Family Wines in the Cyclefest's annual Vintner's Cup Race.
But how could one man survive a big red suit and fluffy white beard when it's more than 100 degrees?
"He had to take one for the team," said Korock's wife Lori. "He could wear the beard, but he couldn't wear the wig because he had to get the bicycle helmet on."
The Vintner's Cup Race, which also included someone dressed as Fred Flintstone, and News-Sentinel Publisher Martin Weybret bicycling as a newspaper carrier, was one of many events during Sunday's scorching heat..
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The Hollywood Reporter -- Asner has booked yet another role as Santa Claus.
The prolific character actor has been tapped to star in Lifetime's upcoming Christmas movie, Papa Noel, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Papa Noel will join Night Court's Markie Post in the original TV movie. The New Orleans-inspired Christmas comedy finds Post starring as Lilly, a Southern woman described as being salty, funny, and filled with a life force, and Asner, of course, is set to portray the title character.
24 veteran Leslie Hope directs the Brian D. Young teleplay, which hails from Daniel Lewis' Active Entertainment.
For Asner, Papa Noel would be his fifth gig in a Santa suit, following Elf, Regular Show, and two animated films, Olive, the Other Reindeer and The Story of Santa Claus.
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Toy Mania -- With Star The Cabbage Patch Kids celebrated its 30th anniversary at a birthday party held at Hamleys in London.
Competition winners joined over 150 UK media, ranging from the national press to Mummy Bloggers, in taking part in a range of eighties themed games at the iconic toy store.
Since arriving in 1983, over 125m Cabbage Kids have been ‘born’ and a new line of products is being launched this year to coincide with the celebrations.
It will also be backed by a nostalgia-heavy ‘memory lane’ themed marketing campaign alongside a TV spend of over 500 TVRs.
Read More »
Cool Toy Review -- As the
world of fandom collectively counts down to the July 18th start of San
Diego Comic-Con International 2013, Mezco adds fuel to the flames of
excitement by revealing the details of one of their Summer Exclusives:
Man Of Steel Mez-Itz Tri-Pack.
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 Santa Bob Murphy!
I’ve known Santa Bob Murphy for several years now. Bob is a fellow Rhode Islander and we often run into each other around town and at Northeast Santas get togethers. Santa Bob is a wonderful Santa has been portraying Santa Claus for a little over 18 years now.
Santa Bob’s wife Pat, grew up in my home
town and in fact sat on my grandfather’s knee many times growing up.
Bob has some wonderful stories. We caught up with 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!
This week we sat down with Larry Peter, the director and producer of the upcoming Santa Claus documentary, They Wore The Red Suit.
The film will be featured in the Indianapolis International Film Festival and has prime showtimes at the Indianapolis Museum of Art's Tobias (The Toby) Theater.
ClausNet: So Larry, what is the latest with the film?
Larry: Well, the big news is we’re in our first film festival with, hopefully, many more to come. The Indianapolis International Film Festival is featuring the film in a prime screening on Sunday, July 14 at 4:30 PM in the Indianapolis Museum of Art's grand Toby Theater. There’s also a second screening Wednesday the 17th at 6:15 PM at the museum. Thanks to all of our supporters for helping us get this film completed and in front of theater audiences.
ClausNet: You've had a few private screenings of the film already. What has been the response to the film
Larry: It feels very rewarding to see the responses we’re getting from our screening audiences. I couldn't get people to grasp this film’s importance while I was trying to get it made. Everyone expected a comedy, or some sort of “Bad Santa” clone. The usual response was, "You’re doing a serious documentary on Santa Claus?" and "It’s an hour and a half long?" I got no grant money, no investors, and my son and I finished the film driving around the country in a wrecked 2001 Sable. Now, it has the highest buzz rating of any documentary in the festival – and second highest buzz of all films combined.
ClausNet: What would you like viewers to take away from this film?
Larry: Mainly, I’d like them to understand the impact on society that Santas can have. Whether they’re “professional”, paid Santas or “community” Santas like your grandad James Rielly, they have the ability to affect the lives of adults and children alike. And I’d like all the members of the Santa community to know this, as well. Whether you’re primarily taking photos in a mall, working a private party, or visiting hospitals, those few moments you spend in a visit can be moments that affect a life. As Phil Wenz points out in the film, Santa is virtually the only untarnished role model society has left. Second, I’d like to see adults help their children make the transition from childhood belief in a healthier manner. Don’t tell your kids Santa isn’t real. He’s just real in a different way, now.
Read the entire interview »
I have been portraying the character of Santa for 11 years now. Starting out I quickly found that the Red suit has some magical properties. I am sure most of the men who have worn it have felt those powers as well.
Not long after I began this journey, I discovered that I longed for something more than a regular old Joe portrayal. Like many of those who do this, I felt that I needed to expand my props to make this character come to life. From the humble beginnings I used keys, and bells, trinkets and charms. I expanded to ornaments and also began to produce buttons because I wanted something beyond the norm that was out there. I began to work leather because I wanted belts that I didn't want to afford from others. The list goes on and on and on.
Now a days, it seems that there are more props designed for Santa than what Santa would really ever use. I am guilty of having many of these props and like many of you I assume, I find that I would need an extra bag to carry all of them to a gig. Not only that, but I began to also feel like more of a magician than I did Santa. Always looking for that opportunity to pull a quick one on a 5 year old child. While the use of props can come in handy, when I reflect back on the countless jobs I have worked I can't really recall that many that were outstanding because of a badge, or a button, or a walking stick.
Nothing trumped the simplicity of just being Santa. I like to think of my buttons or my buckle as a garnish to the main course. Pleasing to the eye, but really not that filling not like that big old ribeye steak. Santa is the Ribeye Steak. Everything else is just the garnish! The lasting effect I will leave on a child is my knowledge of all things Santa. Knowing who I am and what I stand for trumps anything else. While it is much easier to become "Santa" through the wallet, the "Santa" that comes from researching the legend, myths, lore, etc etc is the one that will be forever rich in his portrayal.
He will be the "SANTA" that is sought out
and requested for. He will be the real Santa through the eyes of all
the children that crosses his path. It is that portrayal that will be
perceived as genuine, and long lasting.
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By Santa Lou Knezevich
There was a very popular advertisement wherein the tag line, often repeated, was “don’t leave home without it.” Now we may not be able to duplicate this advertisement but we can make sure we don’t leave home without some very important items.
I call it a “Survival Kit” and the items you put in this kit may someday just save the day! It may not cover every emergency but it will help you out in many situations. The “survival kit” is a basic list of items you may need when you are away from home playing Santa. It doesn’t matter if you are a Mall Santa, making a house visit, or in a parade you may just need one of these items.
Most of the items you may need will fit into a small tote bag. Choose something which you can easily handle and carry with you in the car or perhaps in your Santa Sack.
Each of us is different so the list I created needs to be modified for your own tastes. Here is a small sample:
Drinking Water, Cell Phone, Safety Pins, Extra Gloves, Prescriptions, Tissue, Moist Wipes, Breath Mints, Snacks, Shoe Shine.
Water is something we Santas need to drink to prevent being dehydrated. You should never count on your host to provide water, they are too busy with their guests and your costume, is going to be like a sauna. I usually take a small fabric type cooler to keep my water or perishable items cold. If you need to take prescriptions while you are out put them in your kit. It’s smart to take some tissue but smarter to put some in your pocket for that unwelcomed sneeze. If you have eaten something with garlic you definitely need to use breath spray or mints.
As a rule I do not eat when performing in the Santa Suit. I have broken my own rule on a few occasions and found I had food in my beard or on my clothes. On one occasion I ate too quickly and when I resumed the photo shoot my stomach growled like a lion. The cute little boy on my lap turned to me and asked, “Santa, is that you?” It was also embarrassing because I had a crumb in my beard too! I have however, stopped at a drive thru on the way home and that’s why I use a towel over my costume. Of course the moist wipes are always handy to freshen up with. I am diabetic which is a reason for me to pack some healthful snacks or packaged diabetic bars to minimize stopping at drive-trough’s.
Although I call my client about a week ahead of the scheduled visit they usually want me to call when arriving in the neighborhood. Your cell phone is one of the most important items on your list, especially if you get lost. You should print out where you are going and important contact information. It doesn’t hurt to print out the location on Map Quest or similar programs. I’m sure we have all had the experience of our GPS giving us some bogus information.
A small LED flashlight is ideal for night time when you need to check out your contact information or printed map. Another very valuable item is a writing pen and a small tablet.
I included some aids for making emergency repairs to your costume. Hopefully you won’t need to do any sewing but if something happens you will be prepared. I suggest one of the small sewing kits which provides colored thread and needles. These are available at fabric and drug stores. Another item is band aids.
A most important item is extra white gloves. I’m sure you have seen how soiled your gloves can get after handling a group of children. It’s also a good idea to change gloves frequently so this is a good back-up idea. You may be asking, “why suspenders?” I dressed away from home for an event and to my embarrassment , I had forgotten my suspenders. All night I had to tuck my forearms around my hips so I wouldn’t lose my pants. It taught me a lesson and I’m now prepared, just in case.
You may not need the items I mention however, on the other hand, you may need some special items to be available for you. It’s great if you don’t need to use these items but it’s even better to have them when you need them.
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 Jim Morrison.
Jim Morrison has spent most of his life collecting and preserving the history of Christmas.
A gentle man with a gentle nature and a deep love of Christmas past as seen through the eyes of a child, Jim is a true treasure. An expert on Christmas past, his National Christmas Center houses some of the most priceless Christmas treasures ever brought to light and is a must see to all who truly love Christmas.
From Tudor Towne to the North Pole to the Nativity, visitors are able to see things and experience exhibits that truly capture the Christmas Spirit as a child would see it.
Be assured that every visitor is made welcome by “Santa Jr.” Jim has been seen in countless publications and in documentaries.
He has been seen in Christmas specials on both the History Channel and the Travel Channel.
He was the 2012 recipient of the "Through The Eyes of a Child" award. Jim Morrison truly is the embodiment of the true Spirit of Santa Claus.
1934 - Current
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