It started out as just something I would do at family Christmas parties, but as more and more people found out I had the suit, I received more and more requests. And it's kind of fun!
One of my regular gigs was helping out my aunt's majorette's class for a group of little girls. They had a nice little Christmas party every year at the local elementary school, and though my father was the first to fill in for Santa, it became my job after Dad decided he was ready to retire. It was fun, but the kids could be brats at times. Since the beard isn't real, and the kids who aren't starry eyed know it, some of the kids find it fun to yank on the beard, and that destroys some of the magic from the moment. There's not much I can do when that happens, either, and my only complaint is that their parents don't police their kids a little better. They just laugh. So their kids just laugh, too. And poor Santa loses all respect.
My worst experience occurred at one of these parties. I showed up on time and was directed to one of the small classrooms to get ready and await my cue to make an entrance. I put on the suit, with all of the padding that goes with it. The last thing I do when getting ready is to put on the beard and wig. The beard has an elastic strap that fits over the top of my head to hold it in place, then the wig goes on over the strap and it really keeps it all from moving. The classroom has a small bathroom. Since I need a mirror to get the beard and wig on, I stood in the bathroom in front of the mirror. While I worked on the beard, I placed the wig under my arm. I didn't realize it at the time, but as I got the beard in place, the wig fell from beneath my arm and I heard a small splash. I looked down and there was the wig floating in the toilet. Then I noticed that the water in the toilet was yellow.
I pulled the wig out and tried to clean it off and dry it as best I could. The show must go on! I got the wig in place, put on the hat, got my bag of candy canes, and headed out to the party. And then I started feeling the drip, drip, drip of water on the back of my neck, and slowly flow down my back. It was awful. All you can do is grit your teeth and keep ho-ho-ho-ing through it. I finished the job and headed out as fast as I could, changing my clothes and craving a hot shower.
I prefer to leave the Santa filling-in to the real thing. Santa Claus does a much better job than anyone else, and I'd prefer to leave the job to the professional. He's the only one who can do it.
Merry Christmas, everyone! Er....Have a great evening, everyone!