• December 9, 2016

Some tips for playing Santa from a veteran of the red suit

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Posted: Friday, December 2, 2016 4:30 am

Not everyone is lucky enough to have had the opportunity to play Santa Claus in a public venue.

I’ll admit to the privilege of several opportunities to put on all the red and white regalia and appear on Christmas shows, at schools, parties and family Christmas celebrations.

I once even got decked out in an elf suit when I lived in Lubbock to help out a friend who was working as Santa Claus at the South Plains Mall. Film at 11!

You might think that stature would be an issue, but at my 5’3” lack of tallness, suits are available that fit with a little alteration on the pant length.

Some will say it’s best to have a potbelly, but I got rid of mine several years ago. Pillows will work just as well or go as you are because it doesn’t matter that much.

If nature has blessed you to grow a full beard, then go ahead.

I’ve been working on mine for several years now and it’s turned the proper color of white, so I don’t have to use that extremely scratchy one that’s included in the Santa suit kit. For one thing, it’s as hot as blazes!

My barber is the greatest in the world and does a superb job keeping my beard neatly groomed during the other months of the year, but starting about October I say hands off and let it grow — but talk about itchy.! It’s one of the prices you have to pay to be famous and loved by the masses.

Give yourself time to put on the suit. If you wait to change into your suit upon arrival at the place of your performance, you might back yourself into a corner and run out of time. It’s never a good thing to be wearing a Santa suit and arrive late.

My wife just retired from Killeen ISD, but during her days as a teacher, she asked me many times to visit her pre-kindergarten class as Santa.That never failed to turn into several other last-minute requests from other classes. I could easily spend half a day at her school.

There was one invitation to visit her room that turned into me sitting by the Christmas tree in the lobby at Venable Village Elementary School and asking about 700 kids what they wanted for Christmas. As I said earlier, Santa suits are hot! When I was finished that day, I had to wring out my tee shirt in the bathroom sink that had become my dressing room.

Playing Santa has always been fun. There’s nothing like being loved by everyone, young and old, and even putting up with those who accuse you of not being the real Santa Claus. You have to just get over it and move forward.

Since piquing your interest about my one-time elf performance, I just know you’re dying to hear about that experience.

To set the stage, my wife, Dianne, and I were in our courting days when this friend of mine asked if I would be an elf and join him in visiting the children’s ward at a Lubbock hospital.

I told him I would agree if he would provide the suit.

He found it all and handed me the pointy hat, pointed shoes, the tights and everything else required to make me resemble an elf.

I’ve wondered if asking Dianne to come along was the best choice but she agreed. The tights did create an awkward situation.

It did, however, create quite a sight with my friend driving in his Santa suit, Dianne in the middle and the elf on the passenger side. We got a lot of laughs while stopping at intersections.

Like I say, it was the first and only time.

Just buy yourself a Santa suit, grow a beard or use the one in the box. You won’t regret it.

Just look around town and if you see a short Santa, it might be me.

Bob Massey is a Herald correspondent.

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