Being Santa Claus isn’t as simple as slipping on a red suit and saying Ho Ho Ho.
Santa Claus got a refresher on how to be the best St. Nick possible at a recent Santa School at Royal City Centre. The school featured guest speakers on topics like makeup (how to get the rosy cheeks) and sign language (a few basic phrases to communicate with kids).
“They are talking about everything,” said Rozmin Watson, who operates HireASanta.ca. “We talk about ethics, and background checks, what not to do, what not to say.”
Because Santa’s been busy overseeing operations at the North Pole since last Christmas, the Santa School also offered a few refreshers for Santas.
“We teach them how to hold a baby and how to have their picture taken,” Watson said. “We train our elves how to get ready for the season.”
HireASanta.ca helps put the Jolly Old Elf to work in a variety of setting by providing mall Santas, skating Santas, roaming Santas, kids’ Santas, corporate Santas and more.
“We have a Saxophone Santa. He plays the saxophone,” Watson said. “People love to have him at the adult events.”
The Santas dealing with HireASanta.ca all return to school each fall to fine-tune their skills for the festive season.
“Everything is fresh in their mind,” Watson said. “They all get the same rules and regulations.”
A number of organizations provide Santa services, Watson said, but her company looks for certain traits in Santa. The company specializes in “real beard” Santas, but the personality is what matters most.
“He really has to have it in him,” Watson said. “You have to have a twinkle in your eye.”
While Santa heads home after Christmas, many of these elves show the spirit throughout the year.
“The ones who are really dedicated play their role all year long,” Watson said. “The ones who keep their beards, they do get stopped on the way to work or the coffee shop. Little kids say, ‘Are you Santa?’”
Watson recently met someone who looked the part, but balked at the idea of dealing with “brats” all day long. Needless to say, he won’t be donning a Santa suit anytime soon.
“He doesn’t have it in him,” she said.
The fellows who recently attended Santa School in New Westminster are now ready to spread some cheer this holiday season. After a day of classes, they took their Santa oath and graduated from this year’s school.
Santa is in such big demand that Watson has turned down requests for Santa visits in December.
Across Canada, HireASanta.ca has more than 40 Santas in B.C., 50 in Ontario and 15 in Alberta. It’s also expanding to include international bookings for Santa Claus.
“I can’t tell you how many jobs I have turned down. I just don’t have the guys with beards,” she said. “I could use another 15 people. We are fully booked.”