He may be checking his list and checking it twice, finding out who is naughty or nice, but Santa Claus might not be coming to town this year amid a nationwide shortage of the Christmas icon.
Santas across the nation lost gigs last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Santa visits were mostly conducted online. Many people want to return to traditional Santa visits, even though vaccines are now readily available. Santas this year are more difficult to find than usual.
Mitch Allen of HireSanta.com told USA TODAY that “Everyone wants to go back to traditions.” He is the founder and CEO of HireSanta.com. The site has thousands of Santa Clauses across the country, all of which can be hired for events. “Our demand has increased by more than 120% since pre-pandemic.”
Allen said that people feel “pent up” and want to do everything this Christmas to make up last year. So shopping malls, businesses, families, and even their own homes are trying to convince Santa to come. There is also concern over going back to the old traditions.
Allen stated that around 700 Santas died in the last year. However, between 300 and 500 of these deaths were caused by COVID-19. The virus can be more dangerous for older Santas, who are at greater risk of severe complications. Some people are afraid to put on the famous red suit and meet hundreds of people.
Stuart Deacon Jr. (26-year-old Santa) from the Houston region said his main concern is that people are clean, especially children. Many of his “brothers, and sisters,” have lost their lives to COVID-19. Deacon isn’t Santa but works in a COVID-19 testing centre at his local school district. There he can see how devastating the pandemic has been for his community.
Santas may choose to meet in person, but expect social distancing to ensure that children are not able to take Santa’s place.
Deacon stated that it would be the most terrible thing for Santa Claus performers to spread COVID unknowingly. “Santa Claus is not a carrier of coronavirus. We are all extremely meticulous.”
Demand is also increasing late in the year, which is another factor. Mitch stated that people believe bookings should be made in November, when they actually start to book as early January. If people are hoping Santa will come to their holiday event, they’re probably out of luck. He says that there are many other events with Santas available.
He said, “We are asking our clients for some flexibility regarding dates and times.” It’s impossible for us to do this… It’s a logistical nightmare.
Deacon claimed that he had booked gigs for as far back as July. By October, all of Deacon’s December weekends had already been booked. Due to the busy schedule, he said he had turned down several offers.
He stated, “There are just too many Santa Clauses around.”
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Allen and Deacon aren’t the only ones having to tell people they may not see Santa this year, as other booking companies have reached out for help in finding available Santas.
Susan Mesco is the founder of Denver’s Professional Claus School. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Mesco said she had never seen a year quite like this in all her 40-years of experience booking Santas.
There are many other characters that are required, too. Allen said that there’s also demand for Mrs. Claus and elves, as well as any other characters related to Christmas.
Old Navy will host a virtual Santa BOOTcamp Nov. 19, for people who want to be Santas but aren’t sure how to do it. To make the figure “more representative of modern-day culture,” Old Navy is encouraging people from “all backgrounds, ethnicities and cultural heritages” to participate in the free event.
Allen stated that he would be happy to help people who feel ready to get down the holiday chimney. After all, Santa can make a few thousand dollars working from now through December.
Allen stated, “If you have a beard and a belly with real joy, then we are looking for you.” “We’d love to help Santas get more work and also help to spread the love and joy of Christmas to more people.”
Deacon reminds people that Santa can be exhausted and stressed due to the busy schedule. He is going to continue giving his best holiday spirit, even under all that pressure.
“We want to ensure that we are a part of your Christmas festivities. He added. We know the importance of spreading holiday cheer.
Follow Jordan Mendoza Twitter @jordan_mendoza5.