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For Santa Claus, who goes by the alias Glenn Reathaford in the off-season, being jolly isn’t just a job description; it’s a way of life.
“When you’re doing something you truly enjoy, you’re bound to look happy,” he said. “I’ve never had a bad Christmas.”
While his primary residence is obviously the North Pole, Santa actually keeps a second home in Phoenix and works as a bus driver for Washington Elementary School District. But he admits it’s sometimes difficult to hide his true identity from the kids.
“It’s just amazing, even when I’m in the grocery store they’ll look up at me and smile,” he said. “You start to learn what a celebrity feels like.”
As a public figure, Santa takes his job seriously. That includes a pretty extensive wardrobe of custom red velvet suits and what he calls “casual Santa attire.” He also maintains a strict hygiene regimen.
“It’s major work,” Santa said. “You don’t just transform to a good beard overnight, I use lots of oils, conditioners and protein treatments.”
Being the front man for Christmas is no small feat. From the second week in November to New Year’s Eve, he rarely gets a day off, especially in the three weeks leading up to The Big Day.
But even with all the hard work and long hours, seeing the way a child’s face lights up when they see him makes it all worthwhile.
“A smile makes a smile and that smile makes another,” Santa said. “It’s just contagious.”
To meet Santa in-person and catch that magical smile, come to Civic Space Park Friday, Dec. 5 for PJs in Park, a free double feature beginning at 6 p.m. with “The Polar Express,” followed by “Elf” at 8 p.m. Or visit him during one of his Saturday appearances at CityScape.
“I absolutely love the atmosphere being created Downtown,” Santa said. “It can become a tradition to go ice skating, eat dinner, drink hot cocoa and make a whole day of it – it’s just wonderful.”
Friday, Dec. 5 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Civic Space Park
Saturday, Dec. 6 from 2 to 5 p.m. at CityScape
Saturday, Dec. 13 from 6 to 9 p.m. at CityScape
Saturday, Dec. 20 from 9 a.m. to noon at CityScape