Popular mall Santas share experiences

Josie Krueger
Entertainment Editor

Entertainment editor Josie Krueger  interviews Kris Kringle to gain insight into the challenges and joys of being a shopping center Santa. Photo by Thomas Ricks

One of the most memorable characteristics of a mall in December is the bearded character in red, who comes around each year to sit atop his red velvet chair and listen to countless children’s wishes. Their presence is so regular in December that people don’t often think about the impact these Santa Clauses have.

For some children, visiting Santa is the highlight of their whole year, and for others, he is the only person they confide in about their true wishes for the season.

It’s hard to tell if the mall Santa life is a truly jolly one without knowing one of them, so here’s an inside look at this special job.

One view is offered from Santa Claus located in Crestwood. This year Claus was at Spectrum Eyeglass Repair in Watson Plaza, previously having been the returning Santa at the Crestwood Mall before its closure.

Claus said, “Well, (my family) drove to Alaska in 1999 and I didn’t shave while we were gone… Then I said maybe I’ll just keep this and try being a Santa. So that’s how it started.”

This began his 19 years and counting of being Saint Nick, during which Crestwood Santa has had many experiences, such as arriving to the mall in a helicopter and being visited by reindeer.

Crestwood Santa says, “ The kids are great…Of course, some of the little ones cry, but mostly everything is pleasant. It’s a good experience.”

Outside of his role as Santa, he has two children and five grandchildren of his own, the youngest grandchild being 21 years old. In their younger years, they sat on his lap and told him what they wanted for Christmas, and some of them still visit him every year.

Another Santa Claus has been working at West County Mall for three years so far. He was introduced to the position by suggestion of a fellow Santa while pursuing a different job. He took the opportunity and loves it to this day.

The best part of his job is “The people. I do have to say that the children are generally much better than their parents.” While memorable experiences include “The people who show up every year; you get to know them. (West County has) groups that do a yearly themed photo, such as a group in here earlier that was doing an eclipse photo,” Claus said.

Admittedly, there are parts of being a mall Santa that Claus does not enjoy. His least favorite includes “People running onto the set screaming ‘Santa! I know him!’ I hate that movie (“Elf”)… One of them jumped on me… (He) was a full grown little fella.”

If you were wondering, Santa’s cookie preferences include “ the round ones, but in a pinch I will eat triangular, square, rhomboidal, trapezoidal, rectangular, oblong, ovoid―even people shaped.” Animal crackers are also acceptable.

Overall, being a Santa can be hectic at times with crying children and “Elf” reenactments gone awry, but the children’s smiling faces and abundance of cookies outweigh any negative parts.

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