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ClausNet Gazette: News from the Santa Claus Network

November 2011

Volume 3, Issue 11

Happy Holidays!

By Michael Rielly

Boo!Welcome to this edition of the ClausNet Gazette!

As I sit here on the last day of October, waiting for Trick or Treaters to show up at my door, I've been thinking about this past year and how quickly it seems to have gone by. Picking up candy for this evening, I was reminded how close we are already to Christmas. The Halloween candy on the shelves has already been pushed aside in favor of Christmas lights, decorations, and treats. I was tempted to buy the Christmas themed Snickers, Butterfingers, and Reese's Cups to hand out tonight, but I knew I would definitely get grief at home for that!

This past month we welcomed our 1,200th new member to ClausNet. Since then, as of this writing, we've added 28 more new members! It wasn't that long ago we were excited about our one hundredth registered member. Today we have 73 registered members celebrating a birthday this MONTH! This week we also reached 180,000 posts in our discussion forums! Clearly, our members have a lot to talk about!

We have another jam packed issue for you this month! Former Snow Queen, Donna Strother Deekens was kind enough to provide us another excerpt from her book, Christmas at Miller & Rhoads: Memoirs of a Snow Queen. You can read the excerpt from Chapter 9 here in this newsletter. ClausNet registered members can read the entire chapter in our Christmas Entertainment section.

For those of you participating in our annual Christmas Card Exchange, you should be receiving your mailing list any day now. If you are new here and missed out on this event or our annual Christmas Ornament Exchange, no worries; we hold these events every year!

Also, next month we hope to be able to announce another event. So stay tuned for a special announcement coming in December!

As always, we hope you enjoy our November edition of the ClausNet Gazette! Remember, if you have a product or a story that you would like to share with your fellow members, please feel free to contact us!

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In The News

Breaking News on ClausNet

Detroit's Christmas tree finally settled in at Campus Martius

Detroit Free Press -- Finding a healthy, symmetrical, 50- to 60-foot-tall Norway spruce grown in Michigan can be quite a challenge -- especially one worthy of spending the holiday season in Detroit's Campus Martius park.

Just ask those who spent several months searching for it. In past years, the Christmas tree came from out of state, but this year, organizers wanted it to be homegrown.

After all, Michigan is the third-largest producer of Christmas trees in the U.S., harvesting about 3 million trees each year, said Marsha Gray, executive director of the Michigan Christmas Tree Association. Trees 12- to 15-feet-high are considered tall by most producers, she said.
Read More »

BBB says be wary of 'Dear Santa' websites

Anderson Independent Mail -- More than 60 domain names have been registered in the name of Santa Claus, offering children a wide range of opportunities to email St. Nick. But the Better Business Bureau says some of the websites can potentially be a dangerous way to share personal information.

The BBB advises parents to do their homework before letting their children write to Santa. All websites should have privacy policies that explains their collection practices. The privacy policy should include the name of the company and the company's complete contact information.
Read More »

Claus and effect: The ultimate Santa school

Los Angeles Times -- The license plate on Lowell Hendrickson's pickup reads "IMCLAUS," and one look at the man behind the wheel explains it.

His snowy hair falls to his shoulders, his white beard to his chest. Spectacles perch on his upturned nose, and his waistline --- well, you get the idea.

Hendrickson is indeed Claus --- Santa Claus. But even Santa needs an occasional refresher course to keep up with the newest toys and the latest in beard-grooming and resume-writing, which is why he drove all the way from his North Hills home in the San Fernando Valley to eastern Michigan this month, to attend the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School, reputedly the world's oldest institution dedicated to the art of being Santa.

One thing became clear as the once-a-year, three-day course unfolded: It's not easy being Santa in these days of economic distress, families splintered by war, liablity issues (Santa Claus never flirts, and his hands must always be visible) and children asking for things that parents and/or grandparents can't afford or don't understand.
Read More »

Mrs. Claus to have float in Santa Claus parade

CTV -- For the first time, Mrs. Claus will have her own float in the 107-year-old Santa Claus Parade, Santa told a news conference on Wednesday.

"Mrs. Claus has always (said) jokingly, 'You never take me anywhere,'" he said before she appeared in public.

"If it wasn't for Mrs. Claus, Santa wouldn't be as popular as he is." To recognize her contribution, she will get her own float with elves and a reproduction of their home up north.

The float will be just ahead of Santa's own, he said. The new float is just one of the changes for the parade, to be held Sunday, Nov. 20.
Read More »

Santa's sack getting ready for trip north

Toronto Sun -- Adrian Ricciuti would love to get the LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean Black Pearl ship for Christmas.

The six-year-old was one of dozens of children checking out the latest toys at the Toys for the North toy drive.

'I like the boat because you can float it on water. I would like it for Christmas so much. I'd be running and go to the coach and freak out,' Adrian said.

The ninth annual toy drive for children in northern remote areas who otherwise wouldn't have a Christmas is organised by the Canadian Toy Association, the Santa Claus Parade and the RCMP.

Last year, the RCMP hand delivered new toys to 12,000 children by truck and snow mobile.

'Our members serve the communities in which they live and work in many significant ways each and every day, whether through coaching, teaching, mentoring or other volunteer activities,' said RCMP Supt. Kevin Harrison.
Read More »

December 5th to be the biggest internet retail day

ToyNews -- In the past few years, the first Monday of December has proved to be the biggest sales day of the year for Amazon, which received over 2.3 million orders on Monday December 6th last year.

Christopher North, managing director of, said: 'Mondays remain the busiest shopping day in the run up to Christmas, but every day of that week will see high sales as more and more people have immediate access to shop online via home broadband and, increasingly, mobile devices.'
Read More »

Warner extends DC Comics deal with Mattel

ToyNews -- Under the terms of the deal, Mattel has unprecedented access to the complete DC Comics vault of characters, which includes over a thousand Super Heroes and Super Villains, such as Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and The Joker.

The agreement also includes characters such as The Flash, Aquaman, Shazam!, Green Arrow and Hawkman.
Read More »

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Featured Member - September 2011

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 Shanta!

I am happy to announce this month our ClausNet Featured Member of the Month for November 2011 is Shanta!

Santa Shannon aka 'Shanta' first joined us here on back in July of 2009. Since then he has been a key contributor to the community. For those of you who read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' to audiences, you may want to take a look at his rendition of Clement Clarke Moore's poem.

ClausNET Featured Member of the Month

We spoke with Shannon a few weeks ago and 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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Weary Santa, Tired Snow Queens, Grumpy Elves

Excerpt from Christmas at Miller & Rhoads: Memoirs of a Snow Queen

By Donna Strother Deekens

It was a common occurrence on a busy Saturday for as many as seven hundred fifty children to make their way through the line to visit with the Miller & Rhoads' Santa, Snow Queen and Elf. Often the crowd was so loud with happy voices it was difficult to even hear Santa speak.

He would talk into a microphone while visiting with a child on his lap and inquire about their 'wish list,' but sometimes his words were masked by the visitors' mere excitement.

During those engaged times, Santa was careful to keep a rhythm. He knew to pace each child or group of children, but he was mindful not to rush any visit. He was sensitive to the fact that each visit was special for each child. Santa knew every little visitor had come to see him and his helpers in Santaland. He wanted to make certain that their wait, sometimes long and tiring, was worth the time and effort invested by both children and adults.

Busy days and nights produced a few frustrations for some Santaland employees at various times. The Snow Queens experienced those moments just as any of Santa's assistants sometimes did, but they always were expected to present themselves as elegant and in control.

In my case, I remember it was important to smile sometimes when I did not feel like smiling, and of course, refrain from showing any unpleasantness or frustration in my facial expressions. At times my hands tired from waving, and sometimes I wished I could be like a puppet and simply pull a string for my hands to alternate the motion. Nevertheless, the joy of greeting everyone was part of the fun of the job.

The Snow Queen was the primary 'greeter' to each child before he or she visited with Santa, and we were aware of this important responsibility. Most of the time, talking with the children and carrying on conversations with them just before they went up to see Santa ran very smoothly. It was a thrill to witness all the little ones dressed in their best attire and anxious to talk with me, and then Santa Claus.

As the Snow Queen, my initial greeting and the exchanges with the children went off quite well most of the time. One year, however, a little boy of about five years old came up to me and immediately I attempted to strike up a conversation with him.

'Hi, what's your name?' I inquired. There was no response and no eye contact made to me by him.

I asked him again. 'Hi, can you tell me your name?' Once more, there was no response from the little fellow.

I kept asking him, 'What's your name? I know you must have a name!' But, he kept looking down at his shoes and shuffling his feet, refusing to make eye contact with me. He simply was determined he would not be talkative that day, at least to a Snow Queen.

I continued to try to pry his name out of him. 'Santa is about ready to talk with you, and I would like to know your name,' I said, feeling somewhat nervous that the previous child with Santa already had completed her visit. Santa looked inquisitively towards us, and one more time I quietly pleaded, 'Please, tell me your name!'

No doubt tiring of my constant bombardment of asking who he was, he finally said, 'Johnny!' looking away from me as he announced it reluctantly, but quickly.
Read more »

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The Merry Network Update

Sweet Treats of Christmas Cookbook

By Santa Jeff Westover

We're pleased to announce the First Edition of the Sweet Treats of Christmas cookbook!

Over 300 delicious, delightful, and unique recipes submitted from around the world by members of ClausNet and the Merry Network. Inside are names of folks you may recognize who submitted their family and traditional Christmas recipes.

All proceeds from the sale of the cookbook go to the Santa's Sleigh project. Santa's Sleigh is an effort by the united webmasters of the Merry Network to help bring a Merry Christmas to a family in need. Like the famous gift bringer of old, we seek only to supply a little joy, to give anonymously, to spread the cheer of Christmas a little further. Learn more about Santa's Sleigh and little about what we accomplished in 2010 here.

You can order your copy and brighten this Christmas for another family in need for just $19.95 plus shipping. To order your copy, visit

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Santa-America News

Santas Needed!

By Santa Bob Elkin

For many Santas the season has started and you have happily worn the 'Red Suit.'

Isn't it wonderful to be able to play the role before so many children and bring the Spirit of Christmas to so many? If you're like me the countdown calendar to Christmas can't go by fast enough. I know I drive Mrs. Claus 'nuts' because she once asked me if it was possible for me 'not to talk about anything Santa for a day?' You guessed it. I failed the test.

During the season you are going to experience many different emotions. There will be children who have written 'wish lists' that rival the inventory of Toys-R-Us and they will try your patience.

There will be the screaming babies being thrust at you by an overbearing parent. Some children will remain silent because a parent will speak for them and even you won't be able to get a word in. You're going to look at a child who has been so excited to see you and when they are just about on your lap; they are going to have the biggest meltdown you ever saw. And you didn't do a thing.

There are also many bright spots that will make memories for a lifetime. A cute little girl dressed in her best Christmas Dress will steal your heart especially, when she gives you a kiss on the cheek with a hug. A little boy will melt you by saying 'Santa, I love you!' while a little girl will tell you about her mother in the hospital and ask you to make her better. Your heart will break for her but there will be many children who will fill your heart with joy and make you proud of what you do.

There will however, be a child or two who you will never forget. They may be the ones you visit at the cancer ward of the children's hospital or maybe you have made a hospice visit. These are 'Santas Special Children' and your heart reaches out to them. These are the children who may not be home for Christmas. They may miss the joy of unwrapping presents on Christmas morning amidst the laughter of family and friends. Possibly the child you hold will never see the bright lights of a Christmas Tree again. If you have the opportunity to bring love, hope and joy to a critically ill child or make hospice visits you are very fortunate to spread the magic of Santa. Making these visits is as they say, 'What it is all about.'

Perhaps you are interested in volunteering to bring the joy of Santa to children in hospice care, visiting families of returning service personnel, or being Santa to Autistic Children and other charitable causes. Please consider joining Santa America. Santa America which is the largest Santa 501c3 charity anywhere and we need some outstanding Santas to bring 'Love, Hope and Joy' to children in need.

For more information about these issues or other health questions contact:

Santa-America, Inc.
Santa Bob Elkin
Vice President, Santa Relations
Vice President, Disaster Relief for Children

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My Last Day at Work

By Santa Gordon

Yesterday I was hip deep in "Sugar Skulls", halfpint zombies and ankle biting vampires. It was Halloween day and many of my regular customers came in to get more last minute supplies to make up more of these wonderful little monsters. They all asked if they could come back later in the week to talk to me about their projects upcoming and displayed shock and dismay to my answer that this was my last day there in the shop.

You see November 1st I leave the shop every year to go be Santa. I take the time to go over everything I use and need to perform before I have to start sitting in the chair. Last minute adjustments are made and then I put it all into the mall for the big day. This year I start on the 11th so that gives me about 5 days to visit with family, do some shopping, watch a movie or two and relax and then I plunge into full Santa mode for the next 50 days or so. I don't put the suit and gear away until after New Years eve.

Surprisingly enough, many of those customers did not even ask if I would be back or even why I was leaving. They just assumed i was being let go and went directly to the owner to plead my case. Upon hearing that I would be back once I was through with being Santa they then would come back and ask where I would be sitting so they could get a picture too. Among the people I regularly help is the training ER nurse that consults on how to make "pressure sores"(bed sores) and how to make realistic looking "3rd degree burns" (K-Y jelly is wonderful for this!), the Teacher that wants to be Voldermort with the foam prosthetic piece, the huge guy that looks like a Pro Linebacker/Biker that does make up for all the kids in the neighborhood and several of the video student Spielberg wannabees that come in to pick my brain once a month.

The reason I enjoy working at the shop so much is not because of the money I make there or the wonderful way I am respected when told to fix the toilet. It is because I get to help people with their projects and figure out interesting ways to achieve the effect they want within the budget they have. That is true if I am helping them with Make up or in Magic. I enjoy the intellectual puzzle that is placed before me each day.

The Main reason I enjoy working there though, is that the owner allows me to go on sabbatical from November 1rst until sometime in February the following year to pursue being Santa and then having the time off to go to the reunion luncheon. During January I perform at birthday parties and I go visit family once again. This year I will be starting a new tradition of visiting my nephew the SeaBee the day after Christmas at his grave site and tell him all the wonderful stories of being Santa over the last season as I did when he was still with us. There is a bench there just for that purpose.

I have said it before many times but it bears repeating once again. Being Santa is the best job a person can hold and do. The joy and happiness a child feels when they see Santa is poured over you. You truly receive the gift of trust and love each and every time you make an appearance! It is definitely a job that is seasonal in nature and it is sometimes demanding of you emotionally and physically but there is no finer occupation on the face of the earth that I could ever think of. To be Santa is like living Christmas every day you put the red suit on.

Some day in the future, I will have to say "This is my last day as Santa." Shortly there after someone might sit on a bench and tell me the stories they have of Christmas past as well. I will have started down a new path but i will still listen. Be happy in the present! Do not relive the past, learn from it Yes! but live in the present day. Do not fear the future or begrudge the young their time in it. Celebrate the season with everyone around you! Give of yourself and your talents! Share the warmth and Joy of Christmas time and hold it all the year round to share with others then as well. For when you are Santa, you hold the position and office all year round .
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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 William "Bill" Strother.

Bill StrotherMiller & Rhoads Department Store hired former Hollywood stunt man Bill Strother to fill Santa's big red suit in 1942. Strother brought with him many techniques from Hollywood and made the Miller & Rhoads Santa Claus a symbol of the Christmas season.

His makeup, designed by the famous Max Factor, took Strother about two hours to put on, and he was, without a doubt, the most realistic Santa Claus ever seen.

In addition, he devised a special Santa act. After appearing out of a chimney, he received children on his lap and by use of a concealed throat-mike on an assistant, was able to address each child by name. No act at any theater in Richmond ever drew the crowds, adults as well as children that flocked to see this Santa Claus appear out of a chimney.

Bill Strother not only became the most famous Santa Claus in the history of Virginia, he was also the world's highest paid Santa Claus according to an article in the Saturday Evening Post in 1951.

"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
Miller & Rhoads Legendary Santa Claus
1896 ' 1957

Want to learn more? Check out the following:

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