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ClausNet Gazette: News from the Santa Claus Network


Volume 7, Issue 11

Countdown To Christmas 2015!

By Michael Rielly

The New Yorker, December 11, 1937 - Illustration by Constantin Alajalov

Welcome to our November 2015 newsletter!

Well here we are November 1, 2015! It’s hard to believe there are only 53 days till Christmas. I know many of you have already started making appearances this year. Some of you are even booked solid for the season. I myself am booked every weekend starting next week and leading up to Christmas Eve.

It’s always a challenge for me to find that balance between being Santa Claus and being a husband/dad. During the season I tend to miss out on a lot of the things that others get to do the days leading up to Christmas. Just finding the time to get gifts for my wife and kids is stressful enough. If only I really did have Elves.

Over the next few weeks, I know some of you may also start to feel a little stressed. Don’t be. One of the things that helps me is to always remember not lose sight of the true meaning of why we don the red suit. If you are unfamiliar with the Santa Claus Oath, this may help:

The Santa Claus Oath

I will seek knowledge to be well versed in the mysteries of bringing Christmas cheer and good will to all the people that I encounter in my journeys and travels.

I shall be dedicated to hearing the secret dreams of both children and adults.

I understand that the true and only gift I can give, as Santa, is myself.

I acknowledge that some of the requests I will hear will be difficult and sad.

I know in these difficulties there lies an opportunity to bring a spirit of warmth, understanding and compassion.

I know the “real reason for the season” and know that I am blessed to be able to be a part of it.

I realize that I belong to a brotherhood and will be supportive, honest, and show fellowship to my peers.

I promise to use “my” powers to create happiness, spread love and make fantasies come to life in the true and sincere tradition of the Santa Claus Legend.

I pledge myself to these principles as a descendant of Saint Nicholas the gift giver of Myra.

© Phillip L. Wenz

Enjoy the next few weeks. Take in all the smiles, laughter, and in some cases, the tears. Our role is to create memories – not just for children, but for their families as well.

I hope you enjoy this month's edition of the ClausNet Gazette. Also don’t forget our 2015 Christmas Eve Special Edition will hit your mailboxes on Christmas Eve!

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In The News

Breaking News on ClausNet

Maureen O’Hara, Actress of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Dies at 95

Vanity Fair -- The actress was known for her fiery red hair and her performances in The Quiet Man and Miracle on 34th Street.

“I guess everybody was in love with Maureen O’Hara,” Clint Eastwood said of Maureen O’Hara at the 2014 Governors Awards. An Irish-born actress and one of Hollywood’s biggest stars in the 1940s and 50s, Maureen O’Hara passed away today at the age of 95, per a statement from her family.

“Maureen was our loving mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend,” the statement read. “She passed peacefully surrounded by her loving family as they celebrated her life listening to music from her favorite movie, The Quiet Man.”

The Dublin-born O’Hara first broke into motion pictures in 1939, with roles in Alfred Hitchcock’s Jamaica Inn and as Esmerelda, opposite Charles Laughton’s Quasimodo, in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Over her celebrated career, O’Hara worked with the greats of her time, including John Ford (most notably on the 1941 Best Picture winner How Green Was My Valley) and John Wayne, with whom she made five films, including 1952’s The Quiet Man. She is, perhaps, most widely remembered for her roles in two family films, The Parent Trap and Miracle on 34th Street.

O’Hara’s last film performance was in 1991, in director Chris Columbus’ Only the Lonely, where she played John Candy’s overbearing Irish mother.

Last November, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented an honorary Oscar to Maureen O’Hara for her long and memorable career. Presenter Liam Neeson said of O’Hara, “For anyone anywhere around the world who loves movies, she is more than simply an Irish movie star, she is one of the true legends of cinema. A woman whose skill and range of talent is unsurpassed.”
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How A Charlie Brown Christmas Became a Surprise Christmas Classic

Parade -- When A Charlie Brown Christmas made its TV debut 50 years ago this December, few people could have imagined it was destined to be a holiday classic.

The story of young Mr. Brown’s quest to find the true meaning of Christmas while everyone around him—including his dog, Snoopy—is caught up in the season’s commercialism was lucky to get on the air at all.

Even its makers had their doubts. As they prepared to preview it for CBS network executives, both director Bill Melendez and producer Lee Mendelson worried that the half-hour cartoon was too slow-paced to hold viewers’ attention.

“I hoped the network would like it better than we did,” Mendelson says now. “And they didn’t.”

In fact, the executives had a whole list of concerns. They thought the animation was crude, the voices amateurish and the music downright weird. And, truth to tell, they were right on all counts.

The animation was crude, with fewer drawings than the more sophisticated cartoons of the day, in part because the show had to be rushed out in less than six months. The voices were amateurish—real children as opposed to adult actors pretending to be kids, as was usually the case. The score, by jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi, was a bold break from conventional holiday music.
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Bad Santa 2 Coming Next Year

My Merry Christmas -- As we posted last May Bad Santa will get a sequel and Billy Bob Thornton is in. The project got the go ahead this week and it was announced that filming will begin in January with hopes of a holiday 2016 release.

Thornton will reprise his role as the despicable criminal Willie Stokes who pretends to be Santa Claus at various malls in order to gain access to stores on Christmas Eve and steal as much as he can.

Produced on a $23 million budget, Bad Santa grossed over $76 million worldwide, earning mostly favorable reviews. “It could become a Christmas perennial for Scrooges of all ages,” wrote Peter Travers in his Rolling Stone review.

The film has sharply divided the movie going public — Christmas fans tend to really dislike the film and deplore Thornton’s portrayal of Santa Claus while dark comedy fans appreciate the crude humor and poke-in-the-eye Thornton gives to the iconic gift bringer.

Regardless of where you stand be forewarned that the original and no doubt the sequel will be filled with adult themes, sexual content and loads of f-bombs.
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Featured Member - November 2015

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 Santa Vern Crawford!

This month's Featured Member of the Month hails from The Great State of Texas. Santa Vern joined us a little over a year ago now and has been an active contributor to ClausNet ever since. I always look forward to doing these interviews as it gives me an opportunity to get to know our fellow members a little bit more. And this month's interview is no exception.

ClausNet Featured Member of the Month

We caught up with Santa Vern 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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Celebrity or Servant

By John Johnson

We see it all too often. Someone puts on the familiar suit, buys a wig and beard or grows one, bleaches it, gets a few really nice appointments, and then feels he is a celebrity. His attitude completely changes. His manner towards other Santas completely changes (they are viewed as competition). He tells everyone that he knows that he is Santa from such and such event as if the person listening should automatically know who they are. In fact, the person may have visited this man during the Christmas Season yet only remembers a red suit. Who ever knew that a jolly gent could develop a dreaded ego?

Our community is becoming filled with such cases. In a way we all want to be a celebrity, and there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel that way. We want to be recognized as Santa. The problem comes when we go out to become the “real” Santa. That position has been permanently filled by Saint Nicholas. None the less, we allow ourselves to possess a mind-set that should be foreign to us as Santas. In many cases we allow the ego to overrule our effectiveness and goodwill. We allow ourselves to become meshed into conflicts that should never be between the brothers of such a select fraternity of Christmas ambassadors. We allow personal feelings to be hurt or crushed; we allow here say and spite to rule when we really need to be lifting up; we let things crumble when we need to bolster and rebuild. Our peaceful Christmas family becomes dysfunctional. We are collectively ceasing to carry out the work of Saint Nicholas as we are forgetting how to serve the children
Read more »

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Santa's Wisdom

You Too Are an Actor!

By Santa Lou Knezevich

A few years ago, Mrs. Claus and I attended a performance of the New York City Rocketts, Christmas Spectacular. This show has been a classic holiday feature in New York City plus, road shows tour a limited number of other cities. Santa Claus, along with the Rocketts has a featured role in the production the numbers. A professional actor plays Santa Claus to the delight of children and adults. You may not realize it but you too are an actor creating and making the image of Santa Claus believable.

During the performance Santa moved a number of times from stage left to stage right. Each time he had a jaunty step almost as if his feet did not touch the ground. His steps were exaggerated but tastefully done. When he spoke or sang, his arms had a sweeping motion which dramatized the point. He was very believable and he captured the audience’s attention very quickly.

I was impressed with this gentleman and how he used his hands and body to make the story line believable. A few things he did stayed in my mind and I have tried to incorporate them into my Santa Claus impersonation.

I know very few of us are professionally trained actors but we do need to be expressive and command the attention of our audience. You cannot be a timid Santa.

When you walk into a room, ride in a parade, sit in a mall chair or visit a sick child you need to act the part of Santa. That doesn’t mean you talk at the top of your lungs or speak in a whisper. You must immediately act in the way your audience expects. If your riding atop a float you need to do a lot of waving, maybe having your hands at your hips showing off your belly. Making an entrance at a house visit you may modulate your “ho, ho ho,” so you don’t scare young children. When speaking to an adult or child be animated using your hands with a sweeping motion. You may be asked a question so put your head back, think and ponder your reply. Don’t rush your visit. Talk slowly and distinctly.

It’s ok to properly tease the audience. I’ve stopped in front of grandma and said, “By golly I remember you when you were a little girl about this high.” Saying this I hold my hand out about three feet off the floor. I put my hand on my chin and say, “hmmmm, I remember the year you wanted a very special doll. Do you remember how happy you were and that became your favorite doll.” When you think you can have some fun with the crowd use this variation of the story; “I can’t remember why I didn’t bring it to you but,” I do remember you had a real melt down over not getting it” You were quite unhappy with Santa.” Adults usually go along with your story making it believable to children.

Being Santa is a “State of mind.” When you slip your arms into your costume jacket you should feel the transformation from your everyday life into the mystical being of the Christmas Spirit. You have an awesome responsibility which involves the dreams and desires of children. Always make a child feel important and tell them they are on the “Nice List.” You are just a simple “Toy Maker” and nothing else. Never let your ego, prejudices, moral or political beliefs become a focal point in your portrayal. Bring happiness to all and enjoy being 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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Liberty Magazine, December 23, 1939; "Santa Claus" by Stephen J. Voorhies

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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 Phillip L. Wenz!

If 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
Dundee, Illinois
1962 – Current

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

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