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ClausNet Gazette: News from the Santa Claus Network

October 2010

Volume 2, Issue 10

Happy Halloween!

By Michael Rielly

Boo!Well here we are! It's October already! The leaves are falling and folks are decorating their front porches with pumpkins, mums, and cornstalks. I've already decided on my Jack-O-Lantern design for this Halloween.

Many of us are already booked solid for the season too! I know becuase I am getting Santas calling me asking me if I can take gigs for them! :D

If you haven't already done so, be sure to sign up for our Third Annual Christmas Card Exchange! For more information, check the ClausNet Contests and Happenings forum!

Oh, and don't forget to visit on Halloween! I think you might find a spooky treat or two!

I hope you enjoy our October issue! As always, don't hesitate to contact us if you have a product, event, or a story you would like to include in an upcoming issue!

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In The News

Breaking News on ClausNet

Celebration to Honor Legendary Santa Claus

Christmas -- The small village of Albion has a very rich history of unique people and places, but none are as colorful as the story of a farmer turned professional St. Nick. Seventy-five years ago, November 1935, Charles W. Howard took a step with fate and officially embarked on a career as Santa Claus in a Rochester department store. And the rest as they say is history.

Howard would go on to a career that would include appearances in some of the nation's largest cities, including being the official Santa Claus for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Though Howard traveled all over the country, he never forgot his hometown of Albion. He started a Santa Claus School at his home in 1937 and redeveloped his farm property into a theme park, known as Christmas Park in the early 1950s.

'Charles was a very dedicated man.' said Phillip L. Wenz, a career professional Santa from Illinois. 'His passion for Santa, children, and Albion is a paramount story to the Western New York State region.'

Wenz, along with Albion business owners such as Carol Culhane of Just Me Art and Jeri and Lou Becker of the Erie Cannel Schoolhouse Bed and Breakfast, are planning a celebration of the Life and Legend of Charles W. Howard for September 25, 2010 in Albion. Various people from the community have been asked to participate in this event. The Erie Cannel Schoolhouse Bed and Breakfast is even housing some displays of Howard memorabilia in their auditorium and meeting room.

"There isn't a story any warmer or fuzzier than that of Charlie Howard," stated Culhane, who has already released a commemorative Christmas ornament featuring Howard last July.
Read More »

Rudolph's voice, Billie Mae Richards, dies

CBS News -- Billie Mae Richards, widely known as the voice of Rudolph in the animated TV Christmas classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, has died.

Richards, who was 89, was a well-known voice personality at the CBC.

She died in Burlington, Ont., west of Toronto, her family said. Richards gained fame for her work as Rudolph in the 1964 holiday production, which also featured the voices of Burl Ives and Canadian actor Paul Soles.

She was also well known in the 1950s for starring in the popular CBC radio program Jake and the Kid.
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Dear Santa: Better have these toys in stock

The Record -- Memo to Santa, from Jerry Storch and his team of executive elves at Toys "R" Us headquarters in Wayne: Here are the toys we're betting you will see on lots of kids' lists this year.

Toys "R" Us today releases its annual list of hot holiday toys. The retailer selected three dozen toys it expects will be popular this year, and named 15 of those as the hottest of the bunch.

What are the trends: Toys "R" Us continued its practice of recent years of including low-priced toys, such as Hasbro's Cuponk - a game in which you throw a pingpong ball into a plastic cup, that sells for $14.99 - along with big-ticket items such as the $109 Bigfoot the Monster, a robotic toy by Fisher-Price
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Students building Santa's sleigh

Niagara This Week -- Santa is getting a sweet new ride this year. Two Stamford Collegiate students are planning to bring Santa to town on a brand new sleigh for this year's Nov. 27 Santa Claus Parade.

Along with supervising construction teacher Mark Vajda, head of technology for the school, Grade 12 students Jesse Koteles and Kevin Bateman are hard at work on a new sleigh and display to carry both Mr. and Mrs. Claus on the city stage.
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Community Plans Stop-Motion Animated Christmas Episode -- Community will celebrate the holiday season with a special stop-motion animated Christmas episode, has learned.

"It's going to be a like a timeless Christmas classic in the stop-motion medium that used to give us so much happiness as children," creator/executive producer Dan Harmon told reporters on Friday.

Harmon wrote the episode with Dino Stamatopoulos, who plays Star-Burns on the series. It will be completely animated in the style of such Christmas classics as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Comin' to Town; however, according to Harmon, the episode is not necessarily a departure from Community's brand of storytelling.

"There's a reason for it to be stop-motion animated, but it's not a dream. It still exists within the basic reality of the show," Harmon said, noting that the characters will be able to refer to the episode's events afterwards.
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At 100, Holiday World's 'flower lady' is still blooming -- At 14, in 1924, Frieda Foertsch was learning to drive her dad's Model T Ford on Evansville streets, "but not until I could change a tire and clean the spark plugs," she recalls.

That was when her parents lived on Oregon Street off Heidelbach Avenue, "one of the first streets in Evansville to be blacktopped," she says. Foertsch was known as the "flower lady" at Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, where she took a job as a cook's assistant in 1954, when the park was known as Santa Claus Land, to help pay some farm bills and because, she says, she was "feeling lost" as her girls grew up.

She wound up staying and becoming a fixture for 55 years, right up there with the jingle of reindeer bells, the chug of the Mother Goose train and the screams of the Voyage roller coaster riders.

She ran the admission hut, made repairs in the wax museum, sewed Santa's suits, mailed kids their pictures taken with Santa, took care of the park's macaws and eventually nurtured the greenhouse plants before they became part of the rolling landscape's 191 flower beds.
Read More »

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Featured Member - October 2010

Jeff WestoverEach 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 Jeff Westover!

Jeff has been with ClausNet since the very beginning! We're talking the first few days here! He was extremely helpful in getting this site launched and I greatly value his input and advice.

Jeff and I have known each other "online" for several years now, but only recently met face to face a few weeks ago.

ClausNET Featured Member of the Month

I spoke with Jeff last month. Here's 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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On the road to elfdom...maybe

Posted in Jessica Strom's Blog on

Jessica StromBeing surrounded by Christmas and Santa you think that I would have been the holidays biggest cheerleader...that was not the case. B.C. (Before Claus). I thought Christmas was great and I liked it as much as any other kid.

Once my dad started to do Santa however I began to resent and despise it. I was surrounded by it 24/7 and it drove me absolutely nuts! The only time I really enjoyed the holiday was at Disneyland.

Once I moved out of my parents house however I began to appreciate it a little bit more (and because I wasn't surrounded by it all day). I have since moved back in with Mom and Dad and I've started getting into the design element of it more. I, like my mom, have a knack for the artsy side of things and when mom did the ' upgrade' on Mrs. C I started looking more into the elf thing.

I think I'm gonna pull a mom and do an 'upgrade' on the elf costume cause most of the ones I've seen with a few exceptions are shapeless and baggy and look silly. I still don't know if I will actually decide to play elf but I wana make a pretty dress anyway . Until then I'll still help mom a bit with the "no I think you should do this with the bag or no that buckle needs to be much bigger" side of the Santa business.
Read More »

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A Morning to Dance

A Christmas Narrative by Robert D. Karrick

'Twas Christmas Morn before sunrise. Emma Stirred and opened her eyes. A smile grew wide across her face And joy increased her young heart's pace. The Eve had come. The night had passed. The day she loved was here at last.

'Twas Christmas Morn, no more to sleep. Should Emma rise and make a peep? No longer could she stay in bed For thoughts of toys did fill her head. Stepping lightly o'er the floor She reached and cracked her bedroom door.

'Twas Christmas Morn, no time to waste. Should 'Em slip down the long staircase? Across the way her parents slept, So bravely down the hall she crept. Atop the stairs she paused to listen And saw below a glow that glistened.

'Twas Christmas Morn, not quite first light. Had Emma's tree stayed lit all night? She must go down to check that glow. She must find out. She had to know. With watchful eyes she stepped down slow, And blankey, too, she drug in tow.

'Twas Christmas Morn, a charming day. Might Emma find that elf at play? The elf she first found on a shelf Kept watch and nightly moved himself. Perhaps he's dancing in the light 'Cause Christmas is his great delight.

'Twas Christmas Morn and Emma knew She's not seen real elves hitherto. But, on this morn she hoped she could. Why, it's Christmas! She thought she should. So, at the door she leaned to peek, And what she saw was quite unique.

'Twas Christmas Morn when all is bright, For wonders blessed the earth that night. The elf 'Em hoped would come alive Was shaking, jittering - doin' the Jive. He skittered and swung, he twirled about With so much joy she thought he'd shout.

'Twas Christmas Morn and now daybreak. 'Em knew this sprite was not a fake. She couldn't wait to tell her folks, But would they think her tale a hoax? This elf could help them to believe Those wondrous tales of Christmas Eve.

'Twas Christmas Morn. Her folks came down. "Come! Look!" 'Em cried, "See what I've found." She grabbed their hands and tugged them in To watch the elf's show in the den. Into the room they rushed wide-eyed And found...well...nothing. Emma sighed.

'Twas Christmas Morn. No elf in sight. Could he not dance for their delight? Where could he be? They'd like his show. He must have had somewhere to go. 'Em made no fuss for she just knew Someday he'd come and dance anew.

'Twas Christmas Morn. The night had passed. The day 'Em loved had come at last. Around the tree were gifts galore - Perhaps that tutu she'd asked for. Grandparents, cousins, uncles and aunts Would all drop by - for them she'd dance.
Read More »

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Santa Voices of the Past

Each month we feature a quote from a famous Santa Claus of the past. This month's quote comes to us from William Strother.

Bill StrotherA former silent movie actor and stuntman, William "Bill" Strother was Santa Claus at the Miller & Rhoads department store. He used his expertise in movie making to create a unique Christmas wonderland. Strother devised an act where he would arrive and exit though the chimney and was able to address each child by name.

His makeup and whiskers were designed by the famous Max Factor. Without a doubt, he was the most realistic Santa Claus ever. He was also reportedly the world highest paid department store Santa in history, earning $1,500 per week in the late 1950s, according to the Saturday Evening Post.

Sadly, Bill Strother dies in an auto accident in 1957.

"The role of a department store Santa is to entertain the children, but here at Miller & Rhoads we strive to create an experience that will last a lifetime."

William "Bill" Strother

Want to learn more Santa Claus history? Check out the following:

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