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Holiday Heroes…The Mall Santas

December 15, 2010
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Several weeks ago, the parade of the Mall Santas began. They descended on shopping malls, outlet malls, pet stores and I think I even caught a glimpse of one at a gas station.

Not every Santa works at a mall of course; some have publicists, headshots, and marketing campaigns, designed to help them land gigs such as being Santa at corporate or private parties.

There are non-professional Mall Santas, who make close to minimum wage.  And there are what’s called the “Real-Bearded Santas” – the top professionals who can make $5,000 – $20,000 (according to one report I read) for a six-week gig at the mall.  They attend Santa University or some other professional training, and even have a fraternal organization called The Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas ™.

There are websites where the Santas can order the accessories and outfits they need for work.  I found this neat one where Santas can order hand-crafted belts; they just need to make sure to give the correct measurement of their “cookie zone!”

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So imagine being a Mall Santa – seeing hundreds and hundreds of kids, while working long hours.  The line stretches endlessly as you sit in your sleigh/on your throne/in the magic Cookie House.  You see the tears and the joy.  You watch parents get upset and yell at their toddlers who won’t sit still.  You find a way to wipe the pee-spot off your red velvet knee from that over-excited 6 year old.  You hear heart-wrenching answers when you ask the basic Santa question “And what do you want for Christmas?”

  • “I want my parents to get back together.”
  • “I want my mommy to come home from Afghanistan.”
  • “I want my hair to grow back after the chemo.”

And then at the end of a long workweek, you clock-out and wearily trudge homeward.

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So my thanks go out to today’s Holiday Heroes – the Mall Santas.  If I could share some extra North Pole magic, or special elf dust or super-charged eggnog – well, I surely would.  It truly is more than  a job – for that 6-week temporary stint – every Mall Santa is really SANTA CLAUS!

** picture of Peanut Ferguson with Santa, 2010  (courtesy of his mom Tricia)


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