How Santas are handling a pandemic Christmas season

He makes a list, he checks it twice – and that will likely include hand sanitizer, face masks, and extra gloves. Even Santa is not exempt from the struggles of 2020, despite the The Trump administration’s attempt to get him early access to the vaccine, and Dr Anthony Fauci’s assurance to American children that he has “innate immunity. ”

While some retailers, like Macy’s, canceled visits from Santa Claus in person, others, from the mall operator Brookfield Properties at the Bass Pro Shops, adapt to comply with safety instructions by putting Santa Claus behind plexiglass or by offering families the possibility of sharing their Christmas lists with him by video chat.

The visits of Santa Claus during the time of the pandemic even spawned a whole cottage industry, JingleRing, a new platform designed to simplify the virtual tours of Santa Claus, to plastic snow globe tents. The goods called Four Santa Claus – of The real black Santa, who teaches a new virtual system to reach a wider audience, to an adults-only Santa Claus who discovers how to translate his scorching humor into Zoom parties – to find out how they’re approaching the 2020 Christmas season.

Plexiglas Santa Claus: Chip Adams, 62, East Hartford, Connecticut

Chez Cabela is here – and I believe that’s true of the chain width – they have a three-eighth-inch piece of plexiglass about 6 by 6 feet between us and the guests. Santa Claus also wears a face shield. When people sit down to take pictures, they can take off their masks. Since I’m behind the plexiglass and a face shield, it makes me feel comfortable. It is a fairly large open space, there is a lot of air circulation. After each guest, the elves wipe the seat, and every hour they wipe the plexiglass.

Chip Adams in his Santa Claus costume.
Courtesy of Chip Adams

It hurts when someone raises a 4 month old baby because we can’t hold it – this is one of the parts that I think we all struggle with. But I’ll tell you, last night I had a 5 year old boy. As he approached Santa Claus, he started to run at full speed. And he kind of jumped up and hit the plexiglass. As soon as I realized what was going on, I raised my hand and stabilized the plexiglass so that there was no chance it would knock it over. He looked like a cartoon – his nose was a little flat, his eyes were wide open, his hands were out, arms wide open, thinking he was going to happen to Santa Claus. And he almost slipped a bit. Then he shook it and laughed and sat down and had his picture taken.

Some guys are experimenting with baby monitors. So that we can put a baby monitor [the guest’s] side that no one touches, but you can hear the children talking. We are trying this just to see if we can help because some children speak so quietly. It’s a little harder to joke with kids, but they get it. I mean, one of the sad things is how comfortable these kids are getting their masks on and off. I think what people need to focus on is what you can do, not what you can’t do. If you worry about what you can’t do, it will only ruin the vacation.

Virtual-only Santa: Dee Sinclair, 56, Covington, GA

The virtual studio for me was nothing new. My company, The real black Santa, has been in business for 19 years now, so it was easy for us to go virtual because we had the backdrop and the lighting, all that was needed, when visiting the malls. The hardest part was learning the computer system OBS, which is what a lot of gamers use, and doing it through Zoom or Skype. With JingleRing they have a proprietary platform that we use. Basically, you just need a blue or green wallpaper, and you’re up and running. They brought me in as a brand ambassador, so they made me do videos for the company, and I’m also trying to get other Santas on board.

How Santas are handling a pandemic Christmas season

Santa Dee Sinclair, dressed for the holidays.
Courtesy of Dee Sinclair

[Online], it’s always the same greeting you get when you’re in the mall. But the good thing about it is that Santa is calling you from his workshop. If they hear noise in the background, the elves are making the toys. Mum and dad already gave us detailed information about what the kids had for Christmas the year before, how they were doing in school, you know, do they help around the house. As Santa Claus, you need to be a better performer and know how to talk to someone as if they were standing in front of you.

Most of the guys who do Santa Claus – we’re a little older. We are in this category where we are overweight, a lot of men have diabetes, have heart problems, etc. It is difficult for us not to be in front of the children. And even though I want to be there doing events, I don’t want to be behind a score while the kids are in front of me. I think it’s more impersonal than not being there. And I wouldn’t like to sit in front of 20 kids, and I got something or I contracted something and I’m giving it to somebody else.

I have a lot of clients who are still calling and want us to do in-person visits right now. And as much as I want, I move away from it. Usually the day after Christmas I receive event bookings for the following year. Had to cancel the ones we had already booked. So yeah, it’s definitely a hit in the pocket.

Santa at home: Willie Williamson, 66, Marietta, Georgia

I have worked with my clients to determine what they expect from Santa Claus; some of them want Santa Claus with the mask, some don’t. I show up at the residence, we will move away socially, then when we are ready to take pictures, I sit down and then the children will withdraw into me so that we are not face to face. Once the photos are finished, if they want to have a tête-à-tête with Santa Claus, I’ll put on a mask.

I had 14 different masks made by a local seamstress, with snowflakes and reindeer and that sort of thing. I bought tons of disinfectant, so I disinfect before and after each visit. I bought four dozen more gloves, so I will change my gloves after each visit. I went ahead and bought two more costumes this year which will give me seven so I can change my costume every day of the week. I have a UVB lamp installed in a closet, and I can also disinfect them that way.

How Santas are handling a pandemic Christmas season

Santa Willie Williamson, Christmas Past.
Courtesy of Willie Williamson

My business is probably down 50% this year, but I’m seeing a slight increase home visits. They are around 60 to 40 indoors-outdoors. I’ve looked at the Zoom issue, and to be honest with you, there’s a pretty decent capital outlay. You have to buy green screens, cameras, light rings and backdrops and everything in between. And I’m more on the personal tour anyway. This is kind of the reason why I don’t do shopping malls, because it’s more about photos.

The weekend after Thanksgiving until Christmas I booked 48 tours and usually run around 70 a year. I will try to get tested at least 14 days before this. I’ve also invested in a thermometer, so if people want to check the temperatures, we can do that before we start. I will be careful and use common sense. And if anything gets out of hand, I’ll stop whatever we’re doing. But I’m not too worried about it. I’m probably one of the youngest Santa Claus here, and I have no underlying health issues. If I get it, I get it.

Bad Santa: Rafe Wadleigh, 47, Tacoma, Washington

How Santas are handling a pandemic Christmas season

“Bad” Santa Rafe Wadleigh, drinking for the holidays.
Courtesy of Rafe Wadleigh

The concerts were starting to arrive, and then Washington recently put a moratorium on gatherings of more than five. It’s definitely a big success. In a normal year, I personally do around 10 to 12 [bookings] during the holiday season. It’s not a ton, but I can still count on a nice little paycheck in January. But also, it’s just super fun.

my Bad santa is the happy, drinkable uncle that comes to the party – like, you don’t want him to sleep, but for 30 minutes people love it. He’s funny, he doesn’t bother anyone, he tells all the women they’re pretty and tells some really quirky jokes. I have a lot of clients who come back to me year after year for corporate parties. Some of these bands have come back to me for years. I always felt like part of the family came on a special night, like, “Remember last year when you made that North Pole joke and my wife spat? his glass? “

Usually, depending on the customer, I’ll get a bit of information about the roasting so that I can prepare to zinger people. I’ll probably end up using tech a bit, maybe some silly virtual backgrounds that will kind of elevate the comedy, ideally. But nothing beats live improvisation in person in physical space, right? You can always improvise, but as we all know these things with Zoom are a little hard to deal with because people want to talk to each other and laugh at each other, so that dynamic tends to be a challenge to deal with the flow of the party going on. comedy.

But I think people are so hungry for connection right now. I think if there’s something that people are going to, to some extent, suspend their disbelief and be like, that’s as good as we can get now. Let’s really take a look at it and appreciate the usability even though it’s through a screen.