Other Santas worked behind plexiglass, or “a reindeer apart, as we like to say in the Santa world,” said Tim Connaghan, who runs a Santa school and serves as Toys for Tots’ national Santa face. (A reindeer, in case you didn’t know, is about six feet long.)
Some Santas tried to go virtual. But the technological leap could be a big one for some in the population well over 65 years of age. Gillotte, a relatively young Santa at 58, ran training courses for Santas on how to make virtual visits.
“Because so many people had issues with green screen stuff,” he said, “we started switching it to ‘just decorating a wall.'”
In a way, this strange period has led to a permanent expansion in Santa’s business, another reason why things are booming today. Some Santas who figured out the virtual visit are still offering it. Some of Santa’s tricks actually work better this way (it’s easier to do virtual magic or take a look at the notes with everyone’s names and wish lists).
That means some families who never could reach Santa Claus can now. And other families who previously thought Santa only worked at the mall discovered during the pandemic that he was also making house calls. This type of Santa Claus work is in high demand.
Of course, whether there will be such good times for Santa next year is difficult to say. The economy could turn sour or pent-up demand could ease. But there have been dark days before, even plagues and pandemics, said Mr Connaghan, who was in the middle of a string of Santa Claus appearances with Mariah Carey last week.
“The lore of St. Nicholas is now, huh, 17 centuries?”
Ben Casselmanembodying the holiday spirit of giving, contributed encyclopedic knowledge of government payroll data.