Other Santas have worked behind plexiglass, or “a reindeer apart, as we like to say in the Santa world,” said Tim Connaghan, who runs a Santa school and is the national face of Santa. Christmas from Toys for Tots. (A reindeer, if you didn’t know, is about six feet long.)
Some Santa Clauses have tried to go virtual. But the technological leap could be significant for some among a population largely over 65. Mr. Gillotte, a relatively young Santa at 58, has conducted training sessions for Santas on how to conduct virtual tours.
“Because so many guys were having trouble with green screens,” he said, “we started turning them into ‘just decorating a wall’.”
This strange time has, in some ways, led to a lasting expansion of Santa’s business, another reason things are booming today. Some Santa Clauses who have understood the virtual visit still offer it. Some Santa tricks work better this way (it’s easier to do magic virtually or peek at notes with all the kids’ names and wish lists).
This means that some families who have never been able to reach Santa now can. And other families who previously thought Santa only worked at the mall discovered during the pandemic that he also made house calls. This kind of Santa work is in high demand.
Of course, it’s hard to say if there will be such great Santa times next year. The economy may deteriorate or pent-up demand may decline. But there have been dark days before, even plagues and pandemics, said Mr Connaghan, who last week was in the midst of a string of Santa Claus appearances with Mariah Carey.
“The tradition of St. Nicholas exists now, what, 17 centuries?”
Ben Casselmanwho embodied the celebratory spirit of the gift, brought an encyclopedic knowledge of government salary data.