Tonawanda News — He challenges them to remember all his reindeer’s names (”Rudolph gets them too much top billing”) and reminds them that he prefers homemade cookies (an effort to encourage parents to spend time baking with their children). He still loves the uncertain look that some children get when asked, “And have you been good this year?”
“I love it when I start asking them those questions and they look at their parents,” he said. “Let them believe in themselves.”
The biggest challenge to the job, Santa said, is the kids who are scared of him ... at least at first.
“I try to tell them: ‘I’m the good guy. It’s OK; we can talk.’ You work yourself up to it,” he said, telling about one little girl who, at first, wanted nothing to do with him. “By the end, I had her in my arms, riding the horses with me. You take it slow with them. I love it when their eyes light up.”
Despite the occasional challenges, however, there are moments that make it all worthwhile.
“I’ll never forget this one little girl,” he said. “She had a plaid dress and glasses on her face and when I did my ‘ho ho ho’ routine ... she was just shaking with excitement. I scooped her in my arms and the beam on her face ... it was everything. It’s all about the kids, whether they’re young, old, have special needs.
“It’s all about them. Not me. It’s their day.”
Rae Proefrock, director of the Carrousel Museum, said Santa has been visiting the museum for at least 20 years, although the annual lunches with him have only started up for the past seven years or so.
“As far back as I remember, we’ve had at least a few days with Santa,” she said. “It’s been very good for us, which is why we’ve extended it.”