WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT WHAT YOU DO?
I love to see smiling faces on the young and young-at-heart. When Santa enters a room, it’s like a magical experience. People focus on the character: Children are excited about this mystical character they’ve heard so much about and may have seen only on TV or in print; adults oftentimes visualize a happier time in their lives, usually reliving images of a captured childhood that was fun and now want to pass those feelings and imagery on to their children. That’s why this mental picture of Santa has to be so profound. … the suit, the robe, the belt buckle, boots … combine childhood visualizations with the tactile experience of seeing a Santa Claus who looks like no other. When Santa walks into a space, he owns that space. He’s captured the attention and imagination of someone people want to know. In their mind’s eye, Santa is here. I get just as much pleasure from it as the kids. It’s just so rewarding.
WHAT’S THE HARDEST PART ABOUT BEING SANTA?
You can’t grant all the wishes of the children. They want so many things, not just materialistic! The things children confide in you can be overwhelming. We can’t bring loved ones back, reconnect family relationships or get parents to change a behavior. Santa is not allowed to make promises, he can’t discipline and he’s not a judge. We can encourage them to continue to be good young men or ladies. Santa should never be out of character. Santa should never be involved in family matters. Santa should never be involved in religious choices or discussions. I don’t want children to do something so Santa can be proud of them. In order for the kids to develop proper self-esteem, they need to be proud of what they have accomplished. There is a lot of psychology when Santa talks to kids.
WHAT DO YOU SAY TO NONBELIEVERS?
Someone might challenge you by saying, “There is no Santa Claus.” We never tell a child that they, their friends, relatives or anyone else is wrong. You don’t know their individual situation and don’t ever want to try and correct it. Some answers: ‘Maybe they do, they just forgot’ or ‘You know, Santa Claus is known all over the world and Santa represents the goodness in life, the amazement and love of secret giving, and that Santa challenges all children to be good.’ As Santa, I’ll let the children know that Santa is a person who loves children and enjoys giving. I hope they believe in being good and the wonderful joy of giving. Santa is an inspiration for all children to be good. When you stop believing in Santa Claus is when you start getting socks and underwear for Christmas!
WHAT QUESTION DO YOU GET ASKED THE MOST?
Most everyone wants to know where Rudolph is, and why we aren’t together. Rudolph ONLY travels with Santa on Christmas Eve. Santa has modes of transportation: automobiles, airplanes, boats, RVs. One time Santa even traveled to a destination by way of submarine!
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE CHRISTMAS COOKIES?
Santa loves oatmeal raisin — but any type of heart-healthy cookie will do. We are so busy over the holidays that Mrs. Claus doesn’t really have a recipe to share with readers — I do know she goes to Fishers Foods a lot!
HERE’S A BREAKDOWN OF WHAT IT COSTS TO BE SANTA
Royal robe with double shawl: $1,200
Continental coat with special fur: $700
Brass belt buckle with leather belt: $75-$350
Boots (hand-stitched latigo leather): $450
Liability insurance: $200
Yearly background checks (2): $45 each
HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR CHILD’S VISIT WITH SANTA
We asked Santa to give us some tips on how to make sure a home visit with him runs smoothly for the parents and children alike.
• Make sure you have scheduled the right amount of time for Santa’s visit to ensure each child has enough time to visit with Santa.
• Have all cameras and recording equipment in good working order and ready to use.
• Reserve a special parking space for Santa.
• Have all the gifts ready for Santa.
• Have a sturdy chair for Santa to sit.
• Place Santa’s chair near your Christmas tree or in a festive setting (for better photos).
WHEN SANTA ARRIVES:
• Get everyone together before Santa comes into the house. Timing is everything!
• Photos. Take all the photos you want — Santa will do whatever is necessary for you to get that special picture, so don’t stress out!
• Make sure all the children are together when Santa leaves — it can spoil the magic of Christmas if the children see Santa getting into a car and driving off!
SHHH! DON’T TELL!
Larry Durian has been performing as Santa for 37 years. In 1974, Larry was attending UCLA and working in the security department at Bullock’s Department Store in Sherman Oaks, Calif. The store decided to have a series of Breakfasts with Santa and asked Larry to be Santa. Larry didn’t have to think twice. The store supplied him with a heavy woolen Santa suit, a long “designer” wig, beard and boot tops. He used two down-feathered pillows for his cookie zone and he was in business! Larry never looked back. Every year since, he’s been Santa Claus. He thought it would be more in character during the Christmas season to grow his own Santa beard when entertaining the children. Although initially brown, the years have given way to a distinguished, fluffy, mature, unmistakably-looking Santa beard, typically fitting the tradition of Jolly St. Nick.
For the past 28 years, Larry has worked with at-risk youth and their families. His day job puts him in charge of court placement for troubled youth. As an administrative supervisor for Stark County Family Court, he finds portraying Santa gives him the opportunity to find the good in children of all ages. Santa Larry has been married to Mrs. Claus for 35 years, and when not spending his time at the North Pole, the couple have enjoyed the last 32 years “vacationing” in Stark County. “When you stop believing in Santa Claus is when you start getting socks and underwear for Christmas!” -Santa Claus
Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas
National Beard Registry #7082
Red Suit Society
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
Ohio Network Training and Assisting for Schools and Communities (ON TASC)
Stark County Quest Recovery Services
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