Santas Prep For Big Day!

Santas gather for training session
Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone.  Now it’s the ‘Fat Man’s’ turn!  Get the milk and cookies ready!!
With a month to go before the big day, 15 Santa Clauses gathered at Knott’s Berry Farm on Tuesday.  They made sure their boots and buckles were shined, that their ho-ho-ho’s were jolly enough.  The group, all members of the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas, also talked about protecting themselves from the flu and other illnesses, and prepared to answer questions from children who may fear that Santa won’t come to their homes this year.

It’s a chance for Santas who work at malls, community events and private parties to compare notes and figure out how to make the next holiday season even more jolly. Some men have been performing as Santa for decades; others are new beards, still with a lot to learn.

"I’ve been doing this for 20 years, the past 13 with a real beard," Richard Goodman of La Habra said proudly. "Those of us who’ve been doing it for some time want to be able to pass along what we’ve learned."

Goodman, 77, a retired aerospace engineer, spent the 2007 holiday season – Nov. 27 through Dec. 27 – playing Santa Claus in China.

He’s learned a few lessons along the way that he’s happy to share with his fellow men in red. Among them: "Never promise a child anything, only tell them ‘I’ll try.’"

And when a toddler is restless and a parent insists on them sitting with Santa: "Try sprinkling a little baby powder on your beard. It’s a familiar scent that sometimes comforts the child," Goodman said.


Nelson "Santa Nellie" Burke, 60, a retired truck driver from Garden Grove, sets aside six weeks out of the year to play Santa. He has done this for a dozen years.

"Santa comes from the heart," Burke said. "To have a beard does not make you a Santa. We get a reward in our hearts by making children believe for one more year. It makes people smile."

Santas, and those who aspire to be the jolly old man, will get training.

Several Mrs. Clauses will also attend.

The real beards are a matter of pride for these Santas. Most, including Buena Park councilman Art Brown, sport them year-round.

"I barely notice it anymore," Brown said. "Sometimes I catch people looking at me funny and I wonder why, until I remember, ‘Oh, yeah, the beard.’"

Other Santas, like Ed Howie, 65, of San Clemente typically shave right after the Christmas season. Howie, who teaches junior high and high school students in an alternative education program, said he feels the need to keep his beard trimmed. But he typically starts growing it again in April, partly so he can play King Neptune in San Clemente’s summer Ocean Festival.

On Sunday, Howie came to the luncheon with Rosanne Chaney. She met Howie in the teaching program. She’s retired from teaching now, but she’s remained friends with Howie and her current business card reads "Mrs. Claus."

Nelson Burke, president of the Orange County chapter of the real-bearded Santas, said he found nothing odd about the sight of so many Santas gathered nearly a month after Christmas.

"We’re still in the spirit," Burke said. "For most of us, it’s something we feel 24/7 for 365 days a year.

"Anybody can grow a beard, but you have to have that special joy in your heart to be Santa Claus," said Burke, 61, of Garden Grove. "That’s what we’re here to support."

HO-HO-HO!   And LOL!!!

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7 Responses to Santas Prep For Big Day!

  1. Joe says:

    What are you trying to do Bob? Spoil our belief that there’s only one Santa or something? LOL! That last picture in particular is priceless!

  2. maillady says:,0,52957.photogallery These pics made me laugh out loud. Especially since they are NOT my kids!! HaHa Some of these Santas are a little creepy.

  3. maillady says:

    The ones you have pictures of are adorable!

  4. Grandma's says:

    LOL…what a fine looking bunch of Santas. The one on the bottom right could use a little more white in his hair (hopefully he will ditch the Grecian Formula). The one on the left with the red baseball hat and green vest looks like he’s been in the sun too long…but I guess your kiddies down in So. Cal. are used to Santa’s with sun tans…LOLMy six year old granddaughter is starting to question Santa now….since they are beginning to show up in all the shopping malls. I’ve told her that they are Santa’s helpers…but she will have none of that…she said "Nope, grandma, you are wrong…the Elves are Santa’s helpers". Today she wanted to know if the Elves even know how to make Webkinz (her favorite stuffed toys) because they are a relatively new craze. She figures we ought to write the elves a letter and tell them about Webkinz. LOL

  5. Dana says:

    That’s so cute but have to say a couple of those Santas would probably make me cry.. just a bit scary. I decided to break the news of "santa" to my kids this year and after gently explaining who Santa was.. I stop and Colton (the 9 yr old) says "Yeah Right, we know there’s a Santa, you can’t fool us." hmm well okay! I guess it’s not time. LOL ( I really should stop teasing these kids so much, I’m not believable even when I’m truthful!)

  6. Dana says:

    Oh I had to look again, I thought I saw Willie Nelson, but it wasn’t him.

  7. Lori BJ says:

    wonderful news – had a great trip down memorie lane… thank you dear.

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