Well, it’s been an uneventful time as Kris Kringle for the Chamber so far.

I’ve had my crying kids and one young girl swore I was a fake. I said: “Are you willing to take a chance I’m not real?” That quieted her down right away. I’ve also had my beard tugged and she was chastised by her mom.

For the most part, it’s been a great experience. I’ll be there this Thursday from 5-7 p.m., Saturday from 11-1 and again on the Sunday before Christmas for any last minute gift ideas. So far there hasn’t been any rush so the kids can come down and get right in. The library is open at the same time I am there, except this Sunday. So there are bathrooms to use and of course, lots of books to check out.

I’ve played the Jolly Old Elf many times before with other jobs. One time at the Children’s Zoo they wired me up with a secret earphone so the zookeepers could tell me when kids were misbehaving. Once a brother pushed his sister down in front of the camels. A zookeeper alerted me and said what he was wearing, so when the kid came up to me in line I could tell him the camels told me what he did. You should have seen the eyes on that kid . . . and the parents. It was great.

Another night I saw this little girl dressed like a young Natalie Wood, complete with a red fur-lined coast and a mink muff. She was clearly trying to memorize something with her father nearby capturing every moment on tape. She finally got to me, I lifted her on my lap and she said she had tried to be a good girl all year and would it be OK to give her gifts to another little girl who didn’t have many presents. There was a collective “Ahhh” by the crowd. I told her that was a very nice thing to do and if it’s OK, I would bring a special gift for being such a nice girl. Her father beamed with joy at this gesture while filming. I went to pick her up, to take her off my lap, but she must have been extra nervous and my lap was like a big cork because she broke wind as I lifted her off my leg. It was not a small toot but a rather large one. I didn’t know what to do. No one said a word. I set her on the ground and together she and her dad slinked out of the room in front of about 50 people. It was one of the most awkward things. I kept on with my duties to a silent room.

The next day Bob and Sue Ann Romohr brought their two daughters along with Bob to the zoo. Kasey was maybe five years old and I had been told of her antics at home. When she got to me, I told her all about it and she glared at her parents and said she was sorry. A little later, when I was done, I walked through the zoo and chatted with people. Down the walk I saw the Romohrs and Bob coming towards me. I yelled “Kasey Romohr” rather loud and she stopped in her tracks and asked her parents, “What the hell does he want now?” Kasey and her husband just welcomed a new daughter to their home. I can’t wait for about five years for her to bring her daughter to see me.

I worked at the Hastings Museum and they had me do Santa for them. A day or two before my gig, we entered every name we could thing of in a data base. The computer guy working at the museum set up lap top for me. He added the names we had entered into Naughty and Nice Lists and set it up to do some amazing things. For example when a kid came in, I asked them if they were on a Naughty or Nice List. They would tell me the Nice List so I said, “Let’s check.” Through the magic of the computer guy, I could type their name and with a computer stroke it would list a Nice List or Naughty List. Most of the time they were on the Naughty List and I would ask what they were going to do to get onto the Nice List. They would say something like “clean my room” after which I would type in a secret code and the computer would say “NOT ENOUGH” right in front of their eyes. I would ask what else they could do, they would usually go through a list of things . . . finally I hit another code and it would float the child’s name onto the Nice List. The parents were so relieved with this and it was a lot of fun too.

As you may know, I am Jewish and this came in handy with another kid I talked to who told me HE was Jewish and he was in line because his parents made him. I recited the Jewish prayer for Hannukka and his eyes lit up. I told his folks my real heritage and they were so thrilled.

Over the years I’ve been cried on, jumped on and had my person assaulted in a very special area, but I wanted to make sure the kids had a great experience with Santa. Same thing today. I usually wander through the library after my gig is up and chat with the kids there. I hope they remember those things.

I want to thank the FFA chapter at the high school and Champion Industries for constructing the Santa House. I also need to thank Madonna at the Chamber for making all the arrangements and for the staff who helped decorate the house for me. The great library staff has been great to work with and I want to thank them for allowing the house on their grassy area. And to the current and former Yorkfest Royalty for volunteering their time to help with crowds and picture taking — thank you. Special thanks to Jerome and LaVanna Wiesman (current Royalty) and to the past Royalty, Dr. Nancy Dob, Sally Ruben, Ruth Krumbach, Joyce Otoupal, Joan Strong, Jack Vincent, my Queen LaMoine Roth and Bob Sautter for helping me out. Thanks also to Evelyn Campbell for the gloves and even though she wasn’t Royalty, special thanks to my friend Pat Carpenter for the hand and shoe warmers and the nice quilt she loaned me.

Even though Christmas is approaching quickly, there is still time to come see Santa. I hope you bring the kids and grandkids down. A Merry Christmas to all!

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