Being Santa in Hampton Roads, VA

I really enjoyed reading this letter from Santa Tate in Hampton Roads, Virginia. It’s interesting to hear the different gigs Santas do:

Hi Noah,

Santa Tate here. I am a new Santa (3rd year) so not much experience to help you with, but maybe a newbie’s view might be of interest to you?

I have thought about being Santa for some 50+ years, but never really got the chance – you know, trying to make a living for my family and future. I did perform as Snow Bear at Thallhimers in Richmond, VA. (they didn’t have a Santa) back in 1968-69 while I was teaching in Petersburg, Va (just below Richmond) and I loved it.

I retired in 2006 and worked at Busch Gardens for 2 years as a Guest Ambassador where I helped families, especially with kids. I would I make sure that the entire family got into the picture when I would see dad or mom taking their family pictures. I have a zillion pictures of my family everywhere we went – all of them without me in them and I didn’t want anyone else to know the feeling I get when ever I look at my family pictures.

I contacted the employment at Busch Gardens office a couple of times about trying out for Santa but I really didn’t want to wear a false beard and hair.

Well year before last, my beard turned White, so I let it grow and bought a Santa suit and did some freebees for friends and neighbors. The next year I got a paid gig at The NorVa night club, in Norfolk, Va, Dec 2012.

I was really surprised to find that the young men would approach me and want their pictures with me as much as the young ladies. My wife is Mrs. Claus in the pictures. She helps me sometimes, like Toys for Tots.


Yes, the beard is real!

This year I joined

  • Hampton Peninsula Santas
  • Virginia Santas
  • International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santa (IBRBS),
  • ClausNet

I got Background Checked and Insured so I could work at Bass Pro this year – I got eight days paid gig in November and December.

I also got a (volunteer) gig with Tots for Tots at Busch Gardens and just tonight got a paid gig with Bed Crafters in Williamsburg for two days in Dec.

And now I am available for Parties, Events, Outings, Special, Home; Adult and/or Children events.

I talk to children all the time and wear a Santa hat with red suspenders and pass out candy canes to passing children (clearing it with their parents first) and anyone who is kind to me, you know open a door for me, or recognize me as Santa (mostly the old folks).

While I don’t have a great child’s wish, I do get a lot of Children’s smiles when they see me and point at me and say, look mommy, its Santa Claus. Or a car will pass by and then slow down real quick and as I catch up to see I’ll see a child waving at me grinning from ear to ear.

I try to keep the Christmas spirit through Santa’s image and am very careful when children ask me if I am the real Santa. I try to say that I am the spirit of Santa as are many Santas they may see around and this usually satisfies them. They really are not looking details of Santa, they just want to believe in the spirit of Santa and it seams to satisfy most of the parents as well.

Hope this has been of some use for your project.

Santa Tate and Mrs. Claus


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A snake to scare mom

I recently got a letter back from a Santa at Quail Springs Mall in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  What makes Santa want to be Santa? In this case, Santa had good experiences himself as a child, and he wanted to continue them:

“It was my way of giving back to the children and making the Santa experience a great one. I wanted the children to be treated as well as I was when I was a child.”

As for the perks:

Getting involved with families, seeing the positives of what’s going on in the city, and being a part of the Christmas experience.

I was surprised at the downsides to being Santa. I never thought about how some children are treated unfairly:

Seeing children that you wish more could happen for them, ones that are mistreated or treated unfairly; observing unhealthy things- some children I see pass away within the same year.

The most interesting part of being Santa:

How much children will tell you, how intimate the secrets they tell me are, and there is no greater moment than the one when a child hugs you and tells you they love you.

The Santa told me a couple things children asked him for. This was heartwarming:

 A child asked me to bring back his father who had died in the war in Iraq so his mom would smile again.

And this was amusing:

A little girl that wanted a little brother asked if I could help her mother and father and explained they really needed help because she’d been asking for a long time. When I looked up at the father he knew what she had asked for.

This was probably the highlight of the letter:

I got asked for a snake (a big one) so his mom would stop coming in his room- she’s scared of snakes.

What an evil child! He must have been taking away from Santa’s magic, because Santa says he maintains his magic throughout the entire season by

the thrill of being with children and realizing it’s the one time of the hte year most of us try to be nice to one another.

But in the end, the best part of his job is joy and happiness:

The amount of people that come back to see me year after year- it’s not only the joy of seeing them again, it’s the joy of realizing I continually am a part of celebrating Christmas with them.

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