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ClausNet Gazette: News from the Santa Claus Network


Volume 8, Issue 8


By Michael Rielly

Welcome to our August newsletter!

Well it's August and believe it or not a few stores around here already have Christmas items on display! It's true. I was in a Hobby Lobby a few days ago and noticed a couple of aisles dedicated to Christmas decorations! It's terrible I know. It’s the end of the world for sure. Just ask any Scrooge.

Actually as someone who regularly visits The Christmas Tree Shop and when I can, Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland, I don't mind at all. In fact if it were up to me, Christmas items would be on sale all year round. Of course, at our house the Christmas Tree doesn’t come down until Valentine’s Day!

This month, we will be kicking off our annual Christmas Card Mailing and Christmas Ornament Exchange events. Keep an eye on the Discussion Forums on for more information.

We’re also looking for some help here on ClausNet. If you are interested in helping out around the workshop, please contact me for more information!

We hope you enjoy our August issue. As always, if you have any comments, suggestions, or gripes, please do not hesitate to contact us!

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In The News

Breaking News on ClausNet

Lansing honors longtime Santa Claus

WLNS -- While Christmas might officially be in December who says you can’t show your Christmas spirit in July?

For one 91-year-old man in Lansing his job is to not only celebrate Christmas but to provide Christmas.

Emil Kletke, Lansin, MI

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’re here to celebrate Emil Kletke day and his Santa Claus service to the city of Lansing and surrounding area,” said Lansing mayor Virg Bernero. “I urge all residents to join me in recognizing him for his dedication and generosity for making dreams come true through his Christmas spirit and a jolly ho ho ho.”

“He was in the U.S.Navy World War II,” explained Emit Kletke, Jr. “ And I think it’s like sixteen months in the service and the war was over he’s able to come home and by back to doing the Santa Claus service.

“You think about what the holiday season means a lot of us take it for granted. He made sure he went the extra mile to make sure that any child that sat on his lap would get something for Christmas.

“My father would show up until later Christmas Eve because he always wanted to get to the hospitals in the pediatric ward to make sure that the kids in the hospital knew their Santa Claus wasn’t forgetting about them.”

“Betty and Emil are both very special people to me,” said Tracey Pitchford of the Ingham Regional Assisted Living. “Emil started playing Santa Claus at a very young age and continued it throughout his life. I’m just blessed to know them. I still believe in Santa Claus myself and I’m just very proud to work for them now.”

When you are Santa Claus that means a you’re bringing smiles and hopes and joy for the season,” says proud son Emil Kletke, Jr. “Emil was always one to make sure you didn’t forget about the Lord because Christmas Day is Jesus’ birthday but he loved to do his Santa Claus service to everyone in the area.”
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Christmas in July—Inside a Santa Summer Camp

National Geographic -- It’s the middle of summer and the 10-story atrium at the Chateau on the Lake hotel is filled with Santas.

Photo: National Geographic

They are slow-moving spots of cotton-topped crimson along the railings of the upper floors. They crowd the glass-walled elevators, rising and falling in rushes of red, white, and green. They are at the bar, by the pool, and in long lines for the buffet. A few are planning to meet later for milk and cookies near the spa. Outside, in 90-degree temperatures, Santas compete in tug-of-war and footraces. At night, they dance in their Santa casual cocktail outfits on a twilight steamboat cruise.

And everywhere, there’s the sound of jingles. Not short, hard rings that might signal a passing sleigh, but the slow, rolling sound of bells on the shoes of old men walking carefully and heavily.

Being Santa is not a young man’s game.

The average age of a Mr. Claus at Discover Santa 2016 is 62.5. Billed as the World’s Largest Santa Convention, the five-day celebration and trade show has drawn 750 Santa Claus impersonators from all over the United States to Branson, Missouri, a town in the Ozark Mountains that’s essentially like Las Vegas but with country music in place of gambling. Here, between the stifling humidity of southern Missouri and the air-conditioning of hotels, the Santas meet with vendors to talk about makeup, beard care, marketing, websites, and North Pole workshop sets—anything that can make them the best Santas possible. Because the life of a professional Santa isn’t easy … and it doesn’t come cheap.

The professional Santa industry is growing to outfit a larger, more organized community of aging baby boomers who are linked by the Internet and tasked with delivering increasingly cutting-edge performances. At Discover Santa, attendees are given an agenda book that reads like a Santa Sky Mall, packed with gear that includes the Santa Oath Belt Buckle, $55; a service that makes websites for practicing Santas, $369 and up; and Planet Santa Cooling Vests, $199 on sale.

"Most of these guys are never going to get back what they spend," says Santa Mike Pulattie while watching a fashion show at the convention. A basic, quality Santa suit can run $600. Pulattie, a retired Texas high school coach who only does charity events, counts himself among those who won’t see a return on their yuletide investments. But he says there’s a magic moment when a kid looks at him and really sees the myth turned man, and that instant of innocence and awe is incentive enough for Pulattie to stick with the seasonal job.
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Santa spreads early Christmas cheer at Children's Hospital

WBIR -- Santa Claus took a pit stop from his summer vacation at the East Tennessee Children's Hospital on Thursday morning. Stocked with a bag full of toys, Santa and his elves went room-to-room bringing early Christmas joy to children facing tough battles.

Santa and his elves visited children at the East Tennessee Children's Hospital

"We're just gonna try to bring some smiles to these wonderful kids. They are in tough spots some of them, we just want to give them a little something to smile about today," said Santa.

From the snow and ice of the North Pole to the blistering summer heat in Knoxville, Santa said he enjoys packing up and celebrating Christmas early. He loves stopping by hospitals, where he gets to see some people from the top of his nice list.

"We love to get away and have Christmas in July, especially in East Tennessee and at East Tennessee Children's Hospital. It's just wonderful here. All the kids are just so wonderful, and the doctors and nurses are incredible. We love to be here and be in this environment of good will."

Santa told 10News that he didn't mind taking time out of his busy schedule to pay the patients at ETCH a surprise visit.
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Featured Member - August 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 Coudy Santa!

Our August 2016 Featured Member of the Month has been a member of ClausNet since 2010. Coudy Santa aka Santa Pete has been wearing the red suit for a little over 7 years now.

ClausNet Featured Member of the Month

We caught up with Santa Pete 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 Story of Good King Wenceslas

By Michael Rielly

As traditional Christmas carols go, the song Good King Wenceslas is unusual in a number of ways. The song has been used throughout popular culture in countless Christmas related films and television programs. Yet the lyrics make no reference to Christmas. In fact, the song has no connection to Christmas whatsoever. The story told in the carol actually takes place the day after Christmas on December 26, the Feast of St. Stephen.

Written in 1853 by the Rev. John Mason Neale (1818-1866), the lyrics to Good King Wenceslas were inspired by the life history of Wenceslaus I (907–935). Wenceslas (also known as “Václav the Good”) was the Duke of Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) from 921 until his assassination in 935. Following his death, Wenceslaus was canonized as a saint due to his martyr's death, as well as several purported miracles that occurred after his death. Revered for his kindness to the poor, Wenceslaus is the patron saint of the Czech people and the Czech Republic.

Good King Wenceslas tells the story of a King and his page on a journey as they brave the harsh winter weather. One night on the Feast Day of St. Stephen, they observe a poor man collecting wood. Wenceslaus asks his page to find out where the poor man lives and to gather meat, drink, and firewood so that they can bring it to the poor man's home.

During the journey, the page is about to give up the struggle against the cold weather. Wenceslaus tells his page to follow in his footsteps. Miraculously, as the servant steps into the king’s footprints, he feels the warmth of the king’s generosity emanating in the snow and is able to go on.

Although there is no mention of Christmas in this traditional Christmas carol, its message of kindness, generosity, and giving to those less fortunate than ourselves, is what makes it so fitting. May we always strive to emulate the Good King's example; not only on Christmas, but every day.
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Look your best on camera, stage, and film! Order today!

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Santa's Wisdom

The Four Stages of a Man’s Life

By Santa Lou Knezevich

If you’ve been in the Santa Claus community for any amount of time or spent any time on Facebook, you have no doubt come across these Four Stages of a Man’s Life:

1. You believe in Santa
2. You don’t believe in Santa
3. You are Santa
4. You look like Santa

You Believe In Santa -- Do you remember your childhood and your excitement as Christmas drew near? What about your experience seeing Santa and asking for that special toy! It may have been in a mall, department store or other place. I imagine it was a long wait and your excitement was almost uncontrollable.

Then it was your chance; your turn to see a very special man. I’m sure he was just as you imagined, all dressed in a red suit and trimmed in white fur. He had a friendly face and a flowing white beard which almost covered his mouth when he spoke. He looked at you with eyes which twinkled, just like the Santa in the story book! You knew this was your friend and the one person you could confide in about your Christmas wishes. You believed in Santa Claus.

Things have not changed since your childhood. Children today have not changed their expectations or belief in Santa Claus. It is this person who will bring their wishes to life on Christmas morning. There is nothing to compare to the wonderment and awe in a child’s eyes sitting upon Santa knee. There is an instant and loving bond with children and Santa.

You Don't Beleive In Santa -- Unfortunately the magic of Santa begins to disappear around the age of 8 years old or later. Older children seem to delight in “spilling the beans” or taunting younger ones with “there is no Santa Claus.” Sometimes a child is teetering on believing or non believing, listening to what their classmates are saying confuses them and making decisions is difficult. The child isn’t entirely sure their playmates are right however, they may opt for believing so as to ensure Santa will bring a desired gift. Sometimes, Santa may say or do something to give life to the myth for one more year.

It’s a very sad time for children to find out their hero is no more. Most all children work thru this and go on with the knowledge Santa Claus is the love and joy found in the spirit of Christmas. As one grows older, seeing and believing in Santa Claus, is more of the memories brought to mind by holiday events in our lives. As adults we don’t believe in Santa as we are sure he doesn’t exist. However, each Christmas season we read stories of compassion, charity and sacrifice which at times may challenge our belief, “There is no Santa Claus.”

You Are Santa -- There comes a time in a man’s life when he believes he is Santa. This may happen without the benefit of the red coat or white beard. It may happen late on Christmas Eve when the children are fast asleep and tired as he may be, he’s assembling toys in the garage. This is one of the satisfactions we have because we know the happiness these gifts will bring. We in our lives fulfill Santas role as the “Toy Maker” or should I say “Toy assembler.”

As time goes on, a man for many varied reasons may take on the role of Santa Claus. Maybe it starts by playing Santa for your family, the church, or to help a friend. Putting on the “Red Suit” is a magical experience. Of course recognition is immediate and although you may feel inadequate, those who see you, know you are Santa Claus. When you hear the children’s Christmas wishes and see the adoring faces’ you have found one of your life’s mission.

You may be one who starts their Santa career early or someone in their later years who takes on the role. No matter when you start, being Santa is a positive and wholesome role model for children. One of the recurring statements I have heard from fellow Santas is as follows. “Once I played Santa and saw all the happiness on the childrens faces, I knew I was hooked.” Putting on the “Red Suit” once or 100 times is a magical experience. Many of these children are going to remember their visit with you for the rest of their lives.

You Look Like Santa -- Yes, you look like Santa! Many of us, who are real beaded, also age into the role of Santa. To maintain this look, we keep the beauty supply shops stocked with hair bleaching potions, developers and hair products. Santas with designer beards must also purchase hair pieces and groom them to the look expected of Santa. I have no idea what gross sales of these items would be however, we Santas spend a lot of money on our appearance.

As Santas grow older we take on the appearance of our Santa character. Our hair becomes white and children in the store may tell mom, “I see Santa.” Of course a large belly just adds to Santas appearance. It seems no matter what our doctors say about losing weight; Santas just can’t stay away from cookies, sweets, meats and any other calorie laden food. It’s a shame costume shops only put a belt loop at each hip on a Santa Coat. A heavy buckle on a Santa belt just seems to use ones belly as a ski run!

It also seems after one is a Santa for a short while the urge for more elaborate costuming takes hold. I’m not casting stones, as I have some, one of a kind costumes which I enjoy wearing. I am making a point we must always remember children and adults have an image in their minds what Santa looks like. It’s up to us to fufill this image everytime we put on the “Red Suit.”

Being Santa no matter what stage you are in is an awesome role with a responsibility to uphold the public's expectations of this beloved character.

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

Santa Lou Knezevich
Creator Legendary Santas Mentoring Program

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TV Guide, December 24, 1974, Charles Saxon

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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 George Smith!

For 60 years, George Smith was the one and only Santa that most families in Jackson, Tennessee ever knew. Smith’s reign as Santa Claus began with family, then spread to friends, then on to include every club, church, school and nursing home in town.

He appeared annually in the Jackson Christmas Parade for over a decade and made sure that every child got that special wave from Santa.

Smith was also an outstanding citizen who was involved in many Santa like services to others far beyond his role during the Christmas Season. He served as Jackson’s Mayor for 16 years and was involved with numerous organizations such as the Salvation Army, United Fund, Red Cross and the Boy Scouts of America.

Smith was selected as Jackson’s Man of the Year in 1974. Whether he was in his red suit or in a business suit, George Smith freely gave of himself to his community just as a true Santa does.

George Smith
Jackson, Tennessee
1910 – 1993

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

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