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ClausNet Gazette: News from the Santa Claus Network

JULY 2014

Volume 6, Issue 7

Happy Independence Day!

By Michael Rielly

July on ClausNet

Welcome to our July 2014 newsletter!

Well today is July 4th so I thought it would be fun to do a whole Fourth of July theme in this month's newsletter.

Nineteenth century German-American illustrator Thomas Nast is generally credited with creating the modern day image of Santa Claus.

Inspired by Clement Moore’s description of Santa Claus in “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” Nast first drew Santa during the 1862 Christmas season. The illustrations appeared in the January 3, 1863 edition of Harper’s Weekly. Nast’s illustration titled, “Santa Claus in Camp” appears on the cover.

In the illustration Nast drew Santa dressed in striped pants and a coat covered with stars sitting on his sleigh beneath a waving American flag. Santa is pictured with a long white beard, a furry hat, collar and belt. In the background, a sign can be seen that reads "Welcome Santa Claus."

Inside the issue, is a second Nast illustration titled “Christmas Eve”. The upper right of the drawing shows Santa climbing down a chimney; and in the upper left, Santa is seen distributing gifts as he rides a sleigh being pulled by reindeer.

To learn more, visit the Santa Claus History and Christmas Traditions discussion forum on

Tomorrow my family and I will depart for vacation. We are headed to my wife's home state Michigan where we will be enjoying some well deserved family time on the shores of Lake Michigan.

On the way to the cabin we will stop in Frankenmuth to do some shopping at my favorite store in the world, Bronner's Christmas Wonderland! Luckily for me we've rented a minivan for the trip!

Next month we will kick off our ClausNet Christmas Card Exchange. The annual event is open to all registered members of ClausNet. Look for details soon!

We're Hiring!I also wanted to mention that we are still looking for some help around the ClausNet workshop. If you like to write, have a nose for news, or have good organizing skills, please contact me!

And as always, please feel free to contact us with your comments, suggestions, and yes even gripes.

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In The News

Breaking News on ClausNet

Reward offered in Bronner's Christmas Wonderland bomb threat case -- Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 to find the person who is responsible for a bomb threat at Bronner's Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth. The threat happened June 22 at 2:30PM. Surveillance pictures of the person police are looking for have been released.

Anyone with information on the person in the pictures is asked to leave an anonymous tip at 800-SPEAKUP or
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Dutch court rules 'Black Pete' a negative stereotype -- Black Pete, the jolly sidekick of the Dutch Saint Nicholas is a negative stereotype, an Amsterdam court ruled on Thursday, ordering the capital's mayor to review a traditional children's festival because of the caricature's presence.

"The image of Black Pete with his thick red lips, being a stupid servant, gives rise to a negative stereotyping of black people," the regional court said in a statement.

The court based its decision on an investigation which found that "many black Amsterdammers felt discriminated against and that many in Amsterdam said they could imagine black people would feel discriminated against by Black Pete", it added.
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How to Select Age Appropriate Kids Toys -- Buying toys for children can be a difficult task, because the number of options available in every store is astounding. You will need to find an item that will not only make the child happy, but will be safe and educational. There are some important considerations that need to be taken into account if you want to purchase a toy that meets these requirements.

Learn the Child’s Interests

Every child is unique, and you will hardly be able to find a toy that the kid will truly love if you don’t know anything about them. It’s easier for parents to choose perfect gifts, so you will need to talk to them first.

If you have an opportunity to do so, have a chat with the child about the things they like. Children are usually very open about their interests, so you will be able to glean enough information to pick a toy that will be really appreciated.
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Featured Member - July 2014

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 is Santa Dixon!

Our July 2014 Featured Member of the Month joined us in 2012. Santa David Dixon has been portraying Santa Claus for malls, churches, businesses, civic organizations, and private homes since 2009. Dave is also a member of Arkansas’s finest. Santa Dave Dixon has been an Arkansas State Trooper for the past 30 years!

ClausNet Featured Member of the Month

We caught up with Santa Dave a few days ago and here is what she 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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Vintage Christmas Card, circa 1910.

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To Become a Santa Claus

By Santa Laureate

To become a Santa Claus Oh yeah is it for me? This is something that I Never aspired to be.

I was growing older My hair was turning white I was in a department store It was late at night

There was a young boy playing Just as most boys do His mom was becoming agitated She was in quite a stew.

He was climbing under the clothes racks Knocking displays all around She scolded him several times No place to sit him down

I was standing very close to them My white beard and hair in place That’s is when a large smile Started across her face.

She said aloud “Mikey, Santa’s watching you I bet” “No”, Mikey said, “its summertime It isn’t Christmas yet”.

That’ is when he looked around Then he caught my eye. I never spoke a word Nor did I even try

I nodded and gave a wink He looked Oh so surprised That’s when He began to think That’s when he realized

She mouthed a silent Thank You As they walked away from me That’s the night that portraying Santa Became reality

I am aware we are not disciplinary persons Nor should we ever try No one is good all the time It is certainly not I

As Santas we strive to do our best No matter what the cause We help celebrate the” reason for the Season” We are merely portraying Santa Claus.
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Santa's Wisdom

The Fourth of July

By Santa Lou Knezevich

I was born and raised in Northeastern Ohio along the shores of Lake Erie. Our summers were comparatively short without too many hot days so we crammed a lot of things into the time we had. My friends and I always looked forward to the 4th of July because it was midway through the summer, usually hot and a day full of activities.

This year the 4th of July reminded me of my youth and a story I first heard told by my Mother around our picnic table.

I remember the day had started early with a parade past city hall and into the city park. The parade was right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. It was led by a uniformed color guard and the high school marching band, then the Veterans of Foreign Wars, every elected official, convertibles of local beauty queens, the scouts plus, kids who had decorated their bicycles to the max.

I remember standing next to my dad who always placed his hand across his heart when the American Flag passed by. He always stood erect in quiet reverence of our nation’s flag and the country he loved so much. Both of my parents emigrated from Eastern Europe, they were intensely proud of being an “American” and naturalized citizens.

We lived on one of the streets which opened into the city’s largest public park. The park was a busy place especially on the 4th as every baseball diamond was filled with colorfully suited players while the oohs, aahs and cheers from the stands were the order of the day. The swimming pool was filled to capacity and the shrieks of joy from the youthful bathers made for a festive time. While all the activities were going on the pyrotechnical crew was busy placing the night’s fireworks show which would dazzle us with color and sound. Just as dark settled the first mortar would be sent hurdling skyward its loud “boom” announcing the fireworks would soon be starting.

American flags decorated our yard and every once in a while the bang, bang, bang of fire crackers or the whine of a bottle rocket echoed through the neighborhood. Mom had been busily preparing our meal which consisted of hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, salads and other wonderful delicacies. My mouth waters thinking about those flavors of food cooked over wood coals to perfection. Our table welcomed relatives and family friends who also brought delicious dishes or pastries for everyone’s enjoyment.

After the meal I was always fascinated to hear the stories of the “Old Country” and the things these people endured to reach the shores of America. On one of these occasions my Mother, who was usually tight lipped about her past, recited how she immigrated to America and I have never forgotten her story.

She lived near Zagreb in Croatia and as a young woman traveled alone to Cherbourg, France by train and there boarded a ship bound for New York Harbor. The ship was filled to capacity with people from many different countries and most had booked passage called “Steerage” which was one of the cheapest accommodations sold. One of the lady’s at the table met Mother on the ship and they became lifelong friends as they both had looked out for each other.

Midway across the Atlantic they ran into a storm and the seas were very rough until they neared New York City. She remarked how excited everyone was as the outline of New York City slowly appeared on the horizon. Soon someone shouted “There’s the Statue of Liberty” and all rushed to the railing to see the fulfillment of their dreams appearing before their eyes. She said people were hugging, crying and dancing with happiness.

The ship did not go directly to Ellis Island which was the debarkation and processing point to enter The United States rather, it anchored in New York Harbor. She told how everyone was excited because soon they would be seeing loved ones and they were so close to seeing the talked about “Streets paved with gold.”

As darkness fell a loud noise was heard over head and then the sky was illuminated with the sounds of colorful fireworks. The exuberant passengers flocked together on deck to witness there display of welcome to America. They were amazed at the fireworks display which only added to their excitement of arriving in America. In the morning their voyage would end and they would step onto a new land, a new beginning and a new life.

My mother chuckled and told us, it took a few years for her to realize a few things about her “Welcome to America.” She realized the ship couldn’t dock because it was a legal holiday and all government offices were closed for the 4th of July. Ellis Island was closed and the ship had to dock in the harbor until the following morning to offload its human cargo.

The fireworks of course were also in celebration of the 4th and not a welcoming for the immigrants about to set foot on American soil. She and her friend laughed at how they all believed the display was just for them.

That 4th of July lasts in my memory; hearing about Mom’s story of her welcome to America takes me back to a much simpler time.

I have never forgotten that story and this year I sent this this article to my children as a reminder not to take freedom for granted as it was our ancestors, who struggled to reach our shores to build a better place for all of us. We are the lucky ones, may we never forget there are children who will never know Santa Claus or Christmas because of suppression and denial of religious freedoms.

The next time you want to complain about government or anything else stop; and be thankful you have the freedom to voice your opinion!

By the way, political bashing, off color jokes or photos is not cool when done showing your Santa or Mrs. Claus pictures, such as on Facebook, etc. Remember, “It’s not about you. It’s about the children.”

Santa Lou Knezevich
Creator Legendary Santas Mentoring Program

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A Gift to a Nation by Tom Browning, depicts Santa Claus sewing a United States flag.

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Santa Claus Hall of Fame

Each month we feature an inductee of the Santa Claus Hall of Fame. This month we profile Phillip L. Wenz

Phillip L. WenzIf ever there was a man born to be Santa Claus it is Phillip L. Wenz. As a four-year-old child, he donned his first Santa outfit. By the time he was fourteen he was in his first parade and at the ripe old age of twenty-four, he became the year-round Santa Claus for the iconic Santa’s Village Theme Park in Dundee, Illinois. It is an association he has now had for more than twenty-five years.

Wenz has appeared in nationally televised parades in Chicago and Houston, in TV commercials, and at some of the nation’s largest corporate and civic holiday events.

Mr. Wenz’s resume also includes work in Santa Claus, Indiana at the historic Candy Castle, consulting on Christmas programs, and being a published author. He is considered a leading authority and historian on the Santa Claus legend, history, and folklore. Wenz is, bar none, one of the most experienced Santas in the world and is the creator of the Santa Claus Oath, which is widely accepted by Santa portrayers across the globe.

Phillip L. Wenz
“Santa from Santa’s Village”
Dundee, Illinois
1962 –

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

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