NPR

Don't worry, Santa Claus is still coming to town despite short supply

"Employees wanted" signs have popped up across the U.S. amid the labor shortage. One particular job description calls upon a fairly specific type of worker — white beard, portly figure, jolly demeanor.

Actors who portray Santa Claus at retail stores or company parties during the Christmas season say they are feeling the strain to meet the high demand for in-person events after many families felt cooped up in 2020.

But rest assured: The Kringles we spoke to say have no fear, Santa will be there.

"The Christmas community is a microcosm of the overall community in the U.S.," says Tom Carmody, a Santa from Westminster, Colorado. He's a member of the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame and founder of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the IBRBS, formerly known as the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas.

"So even though we are getting some cancellations because of the influx or the uptake of the COVID-19 virus and the mutations thereof, we are still maintaining a pretty good appointment base," he says.

Carmody says some Santas are sitting out this year, fearing COVID-19 still makes appearances too risky. That means people like him are busier than ever, bringing holiday cheer to families.

To keep up, Carmody is tapping extra Santas to help with various events. He says between now and Christmas, he only has two days off. To ease the load, he says he's taking on fewer home visits but still does virtual visits.

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Ed Taylor, founder of the Worldwide Santa Claus Network and known for his appearances on TV, says most of his fellow Santas’ schedules are packed tighter than a stocking on Christmas morning.

Taylor is another Kris Kringle who has taken advantage of going down virtual chimneys. It's allowed him and his wife, Mrs. Claus, to continue doing what they love to do while also helping care for their grandchildren, he says.

So, whether you see a professional Santa in person, on a screen or not at all this year, Santa Carmody of Colorado wants children — and children at heart — to understand something important: The real Santa is still making his list, checking it twice and readying his sleigh for Christmas Eve.

"Even if we can’t hug each other, that’s not going to stop Santa from doing what he loves to do," he says, "and that’s to bring a smile to their faces, bring joy to the world and to give everybody hope that we will at some point and time return to normal."


Ashley Locke produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Eileen Bolinsky. Serena McMahon adapted it for the web.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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