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Valley Santas Protect the Wonder and Mystery of Christmas

Mrs. Claus and his Head Elf accompany Santa on his special visits to Roanoke children.

by Carol Kirtley

The first year Valley View Mall opened; Santa said he had a three-year-old boy come up and sit on his lap. He was crying.

“Why are you crying?” Santa said he asked boy.

“He reluctantly handed me his pacifier.”

Santa said the boy quietly spoke between sobs: ‘Mom said that if I give this to you, I won’t need it anymore.’

“I took it.  Thanked him and told him he was a good boy. A few days later the boy’s mother came to see me and said that her son had not asked for a pacifier.  She said that he seemed content without it. After all these years, I still have that pacifier and it was the greatest gift I ever got as Santa.  He trusted Santa.”

This Santa, who asked not to be identified, said “You ask me why I do this? It’s to see the smiles whether they are four or 90 years old. I’ve held an eight-month old baby who looked at me with wonder. How can you top that?”

Santa said he likes visiting private homes, churches, medical care facilities, and business events.

“I like to interact with a lot of different people,” he said with a twinkle in his eye.

Santa said that he is very supportive of the stories and teaching the children get at church.

“I treasure a book that I found many years ago.  I always carry it with me. It has a drawing of Santa kneeling down to Baby Jesus. I’m always clear that it’s Jesus’ birthday we are celebrating.  That Christmas is  more than toys and presents. It’s about love and kindness. I know the Santa Oath and I honor it every minute I’m wearing the suit.”

On these special visits, he brings Mrs. Claus and The Elf who is a less than five-feet tall. Mrs. Claus is his real life human wife and The Elf is his mother-in-law. “It’s become a family event for us. It’s fun and very special to us.”

“It doesn’t matter where or what venue you appear as Santa, you have to want to do it.  You have to love it.  You can’t do it as a business.”

The Santa of Roanoke’s Grandin Village parade also declined to give his name but said he’s been Santa for more than 30 years.

“It’s all about the kids. It’s the look of amazement in their eyes. It’s for the kid in all of us and it’s all about what they think, not about what I think.”

“I often get the question: ‘Are you the real Santa?’

“I smile and ask them what they think? If they think I am the real Santa Claus then I am the real Santa Claus. If they think reindeers fly, then yes, reindeers fly.  If they think reindeers like celery with peanut butter, then, yes, reindeers like celery with peanut butter.”

In evry visit seeing the children and their families is what it’s all about. But it’s even more special, Santa said, “when I know a child’s name before they meet me. They always look so shocked when I say their same. Isn’t that the way it is supposed to be?”

Santa said that when he “puts on the suit” he is extremely careful about entering and leaving an event. Santa is preparing for the Grandin Village parade that will be Saturday, November 19 and he said they are always cooperative about my entrance and exit to the parade.

 “I always request an out-of-the way entrance so I seem to appear.  I disappear just as quietly and quickly. Santa is secretive that’s how he’s supposed to be.”

The Santa for the “CHIP Breakfast with Santa” that will be held December 10 at The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center, said the event also honors his request for an out of the way entrance and exit. It’s amazing to see the children’s faces light up when I am suddenly there.”

Santa recalled that a few years ago he spotted a young boy as he came into the event.

“I caught his look instantly. I’ve seen it many times before. It said loud and clear: ‘I’m not going to do this’ (sit on Santa’s lap).  I kept an eye on him as he worked his way around the room getting closer and closer as he watched the other children sit on my lap and talk to me.  The event was nearly over when he finally approached me.  I held out my arms and he jumped up on my lap.  His name is Mitchell and he’s come back for several years. I’m always glad to see him and I always remember his name. It’s so wonderful watching the children grow up and I’ve seen so many grow up in the past 30 years.”

“When you put the suit on, you have to remember that you are Santa. You have to know what that truly means. You can’t be seen smoking a cigarette or lounging around out of character. The Santa Oath should never be ignored by any Santa. It clearly states how Santa should act and reminds us of how important Santa is to the young and old.

“It’s all about the children and I listen to them. I also whisper to them just before they leave that now ‘you’ve asked me for something, you need to give or do something for your Mom and Dad and everyone you love’.”

For a private home visit, Santa said he announces his arrival with “very loud jingle bells.”  The parents usually send the child to see what the bells are all about and when the child opens the door, Santa is there.

“The look of wonder and surprise then the huge smile as he sees Santa at the door is a few seconds that lasts me all year.”

For more information or how to get in touch with Santa email Carol Kirtley at: [email protected]

Santa Claus Oath

I will see knowledge to be well versed in the mysteries of bringing Christmas cheer and good will to all the people that I encounter in my journeys and travels.

I shall be dedicated to hearting the secret dreams of both children and adults.

I understand that the true and only gift I can give, as Santa, is myself.

I acknowledge that some of the request I will hear will be difficult and sad. I know in these difficulties there lies an opportunity to bring a spirit of warmth, understanding and compassion.

I know the “real reason for the season” and know that I am blessed to be able to be a part of it.

I realize that I belong to a brotherhood and will be supportive, honest and show fellowship to my peers.

I promised to use “my” powers to create happiness, spread love and make fantasies come to life in the true and sincere tradition of the Santa Claus Legend

I pledge myself to these principles as a descendant of Saint Nicholas the gift giver of Myra.

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