Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rules of the, er, Throne for Santa

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rules of the, er, Throne for Santa

Article excerpt

YOU'D BETTER not cry. You'd better not pout.

But what about Santa Claus? Does he have to follow any rules?

You bet your Blitzen. Santa has more rules than you have Christmas wishes. Prince Charles looks like a hippie compared to that man.

Santa has to go through 20 steps, just to put on his suit. Here are some:

"Brush the fur on the boot top and on Santa jacket.

"Change into shorts and T-shirt.

"Apply liberal amount of powder and deodorant."

And bring your breath mints.

These rules are in a 14-page Santa training manual by SantaPlus, a national company that provides Santas for shopping malls and special appearances.

Ruthie Meyer, regional manager with SantaPlus in St. Peters, will probably deal with some 400 Santas at 96 malls this season. Their training is strict.

"We have to teach our Santas what to do and what not to do," Ruthie said. "How to approach a child. What to say to a child. We don't want Santa to make promises mom and dad cannot fulfill."

Ruthie says Santa dodges the tricky "Will I get a pony?" with another question: "Have you been a good boy?"

Most kids know what they really deserve.

The face of Santa has changed, Ruthie said.

"We have requests for African-American Santas, white, Hispanic and Chinese Santas. Some Santas need to ride in helicopters, so we can't have an airsick Santa. One Southern California Santa has to ride on a horse."

Some malls insist on real bearded Santas, with natural white hair. "It's a challenge to find them, but kids like the authentic feel."

Parents want to know if that red-suited stranger holding their child is safe. Ruthie says Santa goes through a security check.

The Santa manual warns: "Always be aware of the placement of your hands while children are on your lap. One hand should be placed in the middle of the child's back and the other hand should rest on the arm of the throne."

Always be aware some kids aren't housebroken yet. The manual covers that problem, too.

There's an extra suit waiting in Santa's dressing room. …

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