Event management companies also seem to be having a difficult time this season
Waiting for the Santa to visit home on a winter night with carol singers and receiving a surprise gift at a party from the white bearded man is something that everyone looks forward to during Christmas, especially children. The Santa Claus is the most sought after person. Donning the role of Santa Claus, depicted as a fat, jolly, white bearded man wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, red trousers, boots who goes around with a red bag slung behind, however, is no easy job.
“Nobody wants to volunteer for the role. Besides dressing up in advance and being a fun loving person, Santa needs to know how to manage a mob of children,” says M.P. George, who organises events at St. Louis Church, Adyar. He recalls how his father-in-law, a senior citizen, played Santa at church programmes years ago with ease. “Today, seniors do not volunteer. The crowd of children is also huge now, so a person in the 30 to 45 age group is chosen and he should be prepared to handle 600-700 children,” he adds.
Anthony Xavier, deacon at Santhome Cathedral, who recently played Santa for a get-together of 200 priests of Madras Diocese, says as most of the people in the group were reluctant, he agreed to dress up for the role.
Many churches identify youth to play the part; they fit in the role with well tucked pillow bags acting as tummy and loads of energy to keep them going for hours together. Finding a different person to dress up as Santa every year makes the choice tougher in many churches as the identity of the person inside the mask should not be guessed easily.
Event management companies, which pep up the mood at malls and showrooms by making a person dress up as Santa, also seem to be having a difficult time this season.
“I have declined offers from some showrooms as I am not getting people to wear the costume. It gets uncomfortable when one has to be in the dress for long hours,” says Raja of Magic Raja Entertainment. “For a few customers I have told them to only pay money for the costume and to find their own people willing to become Santa,” he added.
However, there are some who look forward to this time of the year. “I always wanted to play Santa and this year I pleaded with the pastor to give me a chance. Seeing my enthusiasm he couldn't say no,” says Manjula Ponnan, parishioner of a church in Nerkundram who visited houses from 8 p.m. till the early hours of the morning.