Reflections | Lifestyle Magazine RHR Vol14 No5 - Page 60

PURSUITS versity, he was given all the tools he needed to be a successful Santa to children of all ages, believers, and skeptics alike. At Charles Howard, prospective Santas learn the full history of Christmas, sign language, and, of course, tips on how to interact with Santa’s most important audience: the little ones. They even spend a day doing hands-on training at the Midland Santa House, where student Santas get an opportunity to make toys in the workshop and attend flight lessons for using a sleigh. Duane describes his experience as “magical,” explaining that the town of Midland is proud to put their alumni on display. He tells me that his “Claus- mates” travel to Midland from all over the world: Georgia, Hawaii, and even Sweden. He also adds that ladies aspiring to become Mrs. Claus (or even a jolly elf ) can attend the school. S o, what is life like after Santa School? How does a newly-trained Kris Kringle get adjusted to the real world? Duane’s advice: join any number of coveted “Santa groups” around the country. Our own Mr. Duane Claus belongs to The Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas. While he primarily appears at small-scale parties and gatherings around town, he tells me that the larger retailers use these so-called “Santa agencies” to find their seasonal Jolly Old St. Nicks. Ever the fashionista, my next question was: “What about the Santa suit?” After all, the clothes make the man, right? According to Duane, some Santas spend upwards of $2,000 for custom-made garments. For a local Santa, a knockoff suit found online proves just fine. And for the Santas who don’t have a full beard or a stomach that’s like a “bowl full of jelly,” professional costume and makeup training (or even just a pillow stuffed up the shirt) will do wonders to make you look the part. SCHOOL 58 Re f lectionsMediaCommunications.com