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ClausNet Gazette: News from the Santa Claus Network


Volume 8, Issue 9

Back to School

By Michael Rielly

Welcome to our September newsletter!

As we usher in September, kids of all ages are headed back to school. I am feeling my age these days as my youngest started her first year of college this past week. It’s a whole new world for her and for me!

Speaking of a whole new world, over the past few weeks we’ve had several new members join our community. For those brand new Santas and Mrs. Clauses out there, you may want to consider attending one of the following upcoming Santa Schools and Workshops:

  • Northern Lights Santa Academy – Sep 17-18, 2016
  • St. Nicholas Institute – Oct 3-6, 2016
  • CWH Santa Claus School – Oct 27-29, 2016

For additional details or information on future events, please check out the ClausNet Community Calendar.

Last month, we kicked off our annual ClausNet Christmas Card Mailing. This event has become a much anticipated tradition. Enrollment is open to all registered members of Open enrollment for our annual ClausNet Christmas Ornament Exchange begins Monday, September 5, 2016.

We hope you enjoy this month’s issue of the ClausNet Gazette. If not, just let us know and next month’s issue will be free of charge!

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In The News

Breaking News on ClausNet

Politician Wants to Ban Coke Truck for Making Kids Fat

Defend Christmas -- A UK politician wants to end Britain’s tradition of roaming illuminated Coca Cola trucks because sugary drinks are contributing to childhood obesity. His remarks have caused a media frenzy in Europe.

Image: W_Minshull/Flickr

Started in 1995, the tradition in the UK is for lighted Coca Cola trucks to travel from one shopping center to another. The simple but festive tradition draws millions of fans annually and has become a signature British tradition of Christmas.

“At each stop, family and friends will have the chance to take pictures with the truck as it lights up, and experience a snowy winter wonderland setting while enjoying a choice of Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Coke Zero or Coke Life,” a press release from the company read prior to last year’s tour. The twinkling truck fleet was conceived in 1995, after one appeared on television in a wildly successful seasonal advertising campaign.

This week, Councillor Richard Kemp, who heads the Liberal Democrats on Liverpool City Council, said that he was “appalled” by last year’s Coca Cola promotion and called for shopping mall owners to ban the trucks on the same day that the government unveiled a new “Childhood Obesity Strategy.”

“There is one thing on which everyone agrees.” Kemp said.

“Too many children are drinking too many fizzy, sugary drinks. That is why last year in the run-up to Christmas, I was appalled to see a big promotion by Coca-Cola when its red van visited Liverpool as part of its advertising campaign tour around the country.”

“To my mind this glorifies the sale of something which is often consumed in vast quantities with people having little knowledge of just how dangerous the sugar content can be to the long-term health of them and their children.”

When asked if he had ever heard of Burgermeister Meisterburger Kemp turned red and said, “No.”

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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Ugly Australian Christmas Tree Rejected Again

Defend Christmas -- The Australian city of Hobart — a state capitol city — had a reputation for the worst Christmas decorations in Australia. Australia is big on Christmas — so this was not a good image for the city.

Photo: Defend Christmas

So last year they sponsored the creation of a new city Christmas tree — and it was quickly dubbed by the public as the ugliest tree ever, becoming a joke on social media and an international embarrassment to the city.

The tree was of modern art design and had zero traditional elements to it. No pine boughs, no baubles, and no star or angel at the top. It was merely a twisted frame of metal designed to allow the public to walk inside the tree and look up at the sky through it. To many who walked past the tree the thing did little to suggest it was a Christmas tree at all. As the city publicized the lighting of the tree and sent pictures to the media cries of “Where’s the tree?” were not taken seriously.

Hobart, it seemed, didn’t even have the Charlie Browniest of Christmas trees. It was much, much worse. So during this off-season the city council in Hobart has taken up the issue and the debate centered on whether or not the tree could be saved and improved upon. After all, $35,000 had been spent and there was some face saving that needed to be done.

So the Lord Mayor consulted some experts and presented another plan. She was laughed and ridiculed out of the chamber after proposing changes that would cost nearly double the original expense of the tree. Her answer seemed to be filling the center of the tree with a brass dome and dressing the tree skeleton with traditional Christmas elements at Christmas time.

There was hope that someone in Hobart had some love for the tree. “It’s dearly loved by the traders of Salamanca and they want to hold onto the tree, they want to keep it all-year round as an architectural piece and then kept as a Christmas tree at Christmas time,” said one Alderman. But the tree is simply too hated to be saved.

Alderman Marti Zucco, who dubbed the first design akin to a tomato trestle, said he was surprised the plan even came to council for consideration. “It was overwhelmingly rejected practically all over the world,” he said.

“To then try and spend another $50,000 to put a brass dome in the center of it is absolutely ludicrous. I’m baffled as to who actually allowed the report to get to council in the first place – I’m concerned council officers spent time and effort doing this. “It reflects the capital city, and to have a structure that looks like a tomato structure and sell it as a Christmas tree is beyond belief – and to spend another $50,000 sprucing it up is beyond comprehension.”

What will become of Hobart’s tree? Recyclers are apparently standing by.
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Santa Claus Joins Rockettes for Christmas Spectacular Preview Outside Radio City

NY1 News -- The calendar says summer but it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Radio City Music Hall. The Christmas in August event celebrates the 2016 Christmas Spectacular.

Santa Claus Joins Rockettes for Christmas Spectacular Preview Outside Radio City

Santa was joined by the famous Rockettes who stopped traffic in Midtown, performing both at street level and above the famous Radio City marquis.

Tickets are now on sale for the show, which runs from November into the New Year.
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Featured Member - September 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 Niceville Santa!

Our September 2016 Featured Member of the Month has been a member of ClausNet since our founding in 2007! Niceville Santa aka Santa Tommy lives in Niceville, Florida. Aside from ‘North Pole’, I can’t think of a more appropriate place for Santa to live!

ClausNet Featured Member of the Month

We caught up with Santa Tommy 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 Christmas Pickle Mystery

By Michael Rielly

For many, decorating the Christmas Tree with a pickle ornament is a beloved holiday tradition; however the origin of the Christmas Pickle remains somewhat of a mystery.

Details vary, but the most common explanation is that the Christmas Pickle or Die Weihnachtsgurke is a centuries old German tradition where the last decoration hung on the Christmas Tree was an ornamental pickle; hidden deep within the branches of the Tannenbaum. And the first person to find the briny bauble on Christmas morning would receive an extra gift from St. Nicholas or be blesses with good fortune the coming year.

The Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland website offers several varieties of Pickle ornaments and includes this explanation of the legend:

“According to German tradition, the pickle brings good luck. After all the other ornaments were hung on the tree, the pickle ornament was hidden somewhere within the branches. On Christmas morning, the first child to find the gherkin was rewarded with an additional small present left by St. Nicholas."

Unfortunately, there are a couple of holes in the story. Firstly, in Germany, Saint Nicholas arrives not on Christmas Day, but rather on the day of his feast, December 6, Saint Nicholas Day (Sankt Nikolaus Tag). Second, in Germany, gifts are usually opened on Christmas Eve (Heiliger Abend), not Christmas Day morning. Of course there is also the fact that most Germans have never heard of the tradition; and those that have, believe it to be an American tradition.

So if most Germans have never heard of this tradition, then how did it get started? There are at least two Christmas pickle ornament stories floating in the Internet brine of speculation.

The first story takes place during the American Civil War. As the story goes, Bavarian-born soldier, Private John Lower (Hans Lauer) of the 103rd Pennsylvania Infantry was captured in Georgia by the Confederate Army and taken prisoner. On Christmas Eve, Private Lower, starving and in poor health, begged the prison guard for just one pickle. The guard took pity on Lower and granted his request. The pickle gave Lower the strength to live on. Once reunited with his family, Lower began a tradition of hanging a pickle on the Christmas tree every Christmas Eve.

The second story, recounts a tale of two boys trapped in a pickle barrel. There are several variations of the pickle barrel story; however, they mostly center around two Spanish schoolboys who are kidnapped by an evil innkeeper and placed into a pickle barrel. That evening, Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra (St. Nicholas) arrives and rescues the children.

It’s probably no coincidence that this story sounds very similar to the legend of St. Nicholas and the three children in a barrel. As the story goes, a malicious butcher lures three children into his shop where he kills them and places their remains in a barrel of brine to cure, planning to sell them off as ham. Nicholas finds the children and resurrects them through prayer. This legend accounts for St. Nicholas as the patron saint of children and barrel makers and why the saint is often depicted in statues and paintings alongside three children in a barrel.

Despite evidence showing that the Christmas Pickle tradition likely did not originate in Germany, there is however a connection to Deutschland. Both Christmas trees and Christmas ornaments originate from Germany. The small mountain village of Lauscha is considered to be the birthplace of the glass-blown Christmas ornament. In 1847, Hans Greiner began producing the first glass ornaments in the shapes of fruits and nuts. Soon after, the glass blowers of Lauscha were manufacturing ornaments in other shapes such as hearts, stars, and angels. By the 1870s, Christmas ornaments were being exported throughout Europe.

But it wasn’t until the 1880s that glass ornaments became a regular fixture on Christmas trees in the United States. In 1880, a traveling salesman called on 28-year old Frank W. Woolworth at his store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The salesman wanted to sell German glass ornaments to people for decorating their homes at Christmas. Woolworth was unconvinced of their appeal. He felt that Americans would not waste money on them because they didn't 'do' anything. Reluctantly, Woolworth purchased one case of 144 ornaments, but insisted on sale-or-return terms.

Much to his surprise the ornaments sold out in one day, generating a profit of $4.32. The following year Woolworth doubled his order and sold out again. It seemed Americans loved the idea of decorating their Christmas trees with these unique glass ornaments.

Regardless of its origins, the tradition of the Christmas Pickle survives and adds a layer of whimsy to the joy and merriment of the holiday season. And for many, no Christmas Tree is complete without it.
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Santa's Wisdom

A Letter to a New Santa

By Santa Lou Knezevich

Dear Homer,

You asked me about a few tips on your journey to becoming a Santa Claus. I’m more than happy to do so and I’ve written below just a few items’ which I believe to be of interest to you.

Becoming a Santa is an investment of your love, time and expense.

I’m sure raising your family and now having Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren has given you a great love for children. Being a parent is an excellent qualifier for accepting the behavior of children. As a Santa we see many children who gaze at us with awe struck eyes; we are the weavers of their dreams. Children around three years old seem to love us until they are about three feet away. Then we become their worst nightmare. Santa can’t understand every child’s reason for behavior however; we may learn how to try calming them or know when to leave them alone! In time, Santa can usually tell when a child isn’t going to give up their meltdown.

He also knows a child in a meltdown has an effect upon other children in the room. Meltdowns spread to other children like a grass fire. Remember, one child having a meltdown begets another child to have a meltdown. What you need to do quickly and kindly, is send the child and parents as far away as you can, to be calmed. When the child is calm; allow them to return at the head of the line.

If you don’t love children, this job is not for you. Imagine yourself in a Mall for ten hours, day after day, having child after child on your knee while you happily smile at the camera. Mall jobs are not around the corner from home; they are out of your city, state or even out of the country. Consider also, you will be away from family from November until the Mall closes on December 24th. Some companies which employ Santas to work at Malls may provide Santa a costume to wear while; others rely on you to provide a costume. The company that hires you may or may not pay your expenses. You must negotiate all expenses with them. Make sure every item is written in the contract.

You may want to find a company which provides Santas for parties and special events. These Santa Agencies do the work for you by finding events and hiring you out to them. Of course they charge a fee for their services. For many Santas who are new or reluctant to market themselves, this is a convenient method. You will be working for the agent, and not the host of the party. You should never try to solicit the account from the agent. This may be a good way to break into the Santa business and find out what various jobs can offer.

Friends, family connections, your church and local hospital are places you may find work. This is helpful for you as it is another way to start performing. Pass out your Santa business card, to everyone you meet.

I mentioned hospitals but forewarn you that this is not an easy task. Santas often feel the need to attend a child in a hospital bed however, walking into a hospital room and seeing a child with a serious illness brings home the point of facing life and death. I once saw a little girl and I was lucky she smiled with me over a story I was reading to her. Within four days she passed and I was shaken by her death. Her Mother had a memory of that happiness, that smile of her daughters which brought tears of joy to the family. Making hospital visits in reality is far from the movie version. In some cases you may need Hospice Training and/or a Background check. In some situations you will only be allowed to stand at the doorway to avoid bringing in any germs.

You may think it a great idea to walk into a children’s hospital and they will welcome Santa with open arms. Most of the metropolitan hospitals will refuse to allow you to enter. Remember, the hospital is charged with the health care of each child and the protection of each individual. Most of the children’s hospitals have used a Santa whom they have “checked out” so don’t be disappointed if hospital security turns you away.

It is difficult to advise you at this point about what range of fees you should charge. I can tell you as a new Santa you will have a tendency to under-price your services. Don’t let the idea of “If I price low I’ll get the job. Yes, you may get the job today however; you now have set precedence for the future. As your Santa Career progresses you will establish a range of fees for your services. Your under-priced services of the past will be a constant reminder that you may be working for much less then you are worth.

I don’t always charge for my services. I don’t charge for a few church groups who hold events for Inter-city Senior Groups plus, parties for mental health organizations and other church groups. I also donate my time to childhood cancer organizations. Making these individuals happy is something money cannot buy.

Being Santa is not cheap. A good “off the rack” Santa costume will start on sale; at around $250. From there it just goes up. My costumes are had made by a seamstress and a fashion designer, and are very expensive.

Before you purchase a “custom made suit”, look around and decide what costume style you’d like. It’s never too early to search on line for “Santa Costumes” You should find quite a few pages of websites to keep you busy for the day. May of the prices from site to site is comparable. Be careful to make sure the picture and descriptions are the same. If the price looks too good to be true, it’d probably not true. Some Santa Suits are relatively cheap because it is a pullover jacket which I’m sure you don’t want to spend hours in!

The Santa World is amazing and I know you are going to enjoy every minute in the “Red Suit.” It was not my intention to discourage you however; I wanted you to know a few things as you start your journey to becoming a great Santa Claus!

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

Santa Lou Knezevich
Creator Legendary Santas Mentoring Program

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Vanity Fair, December 1935, Paolo Garretto

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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 Tim Cavender!

Georgia native Tim Cavender first put on the red suit when he was fourteen years old. Since then, Tim (whose wife Pam is ever by his side as Mrs. Claus) has devoted himself to an authentic and loving portrayal of the Jolly Old Elf.

Every year he devotes much of his time to local charities, Toys for Tots, and a canned food drive for a local television station. From parades and work with photographers to the annual tree lighting at the Governor’s Mansion, Tim carries two integral traits with him – his love and concern for children and a deeply rooted faith in the Reason for the Season.

Tim is not only a giver to the children and community that he serves as Santa but he is also a giver to the brotherhood of Santa Clauses as well. Driven by his own childhood experience with a less than magical interpretation of Santa, Tim has a desire to share the best possible image of the Jolly Old Elf.

The need for preserving and defending the image of Santa Claus is something that he also shares with fellow Santas and has brought him many admirers within the brotherhood.

Tim Cavender
Ball Ground, Georgia
1958 – Current

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

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