Mr Arnold said he plans to keep a safe distance from children on three scheduled engagements by sitting in a snow globe-shaped structure, oversized sled and fire engine. He will also wear a handmade mask large enough to hold his 20cm long mustache and beard. (Mr. Arnold, who said he made up to $ 250 an hour by wrapping his 255-pound, six-foot frame in his Santa outfit for public appearances, is a proud member of the International Fellowship real bearded Santa Claus.)
“We want to stress that Christmas is going to come regardless of the current health situation,” he said. “Do not worry about it; Santa will find a way. “
Mr. Arnold is one of the lucky ones. With the virus raging, many Santas find themselves out of work this season.
Timothy Connaghan conducted a “red suits survey” among many of the estimated 4,500 graduates of his international Santa Claus college and found that about 20% of the 361 Santas who responded did not expect at all to work this year.
“Due to their own health issues, they won’t come out, or there is no work for them because everything has been reduced,” Mr. Connaghan said.
Many working Santas play it safe by going online.
One is Steve Gillham, a professional Santa Claus who in previous years has visited children in hospitals. This year, he transformed a guest room in his Chapel Hill, NC home into a studio for virtual tours.
Mr Gillham, 65, will be seated in a ‘Santa Claus chair’ – actually a century-old hall tree, or a bench attached to a coat rack – in front of a panoply of computer screens. When the kids appear online, his wife, Debra Gillham, will be offscreen, secretly giving him clues so he can talk to them like he knows them, discussing their ages, hobbies and preferences. in terms of toys using information provided by their parents. It will also tell stories and pull surprises out of a bag.