The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.
Переклад цього матеріалу українською мовою з російської було автоматично здійснено сервісом Google Translate, без подальшого редагування тексту.
Bu məqalə Google Translate servisi vasitəsi ilə avtomatik olaraq rus dilindən azərbaycan dilinə tərcümə olunmuşdur. Bundan sonra mətn redaktə edilməmişdir.

In the United States, there is a shortage of not only goods, but also Santa Clauses: they find very unexpected replacements

As it turned out, in the United States, there is not only a shortage of goods due to supply problems, but also a shortage of Santa Clauses. How do the owners of New Year's businesses get out of this situation? The Washington Post.

Photo: Shutterstock

A few weeks ago, Courtney's boss Bryant approached her with an assignment. He said it was really important and would probably take some time. According to her, he "pretended it was going to be a really big deal." "He said," I need you to find Santa. "

Her boss sits on the board of directors of the Fort Worth nonprofit, which is hosting the event on December 4. He needed a man who could play Santa for the children present. And it seemed an easy task, it turned into a whole quest. She started going to many agencies looking for Santa, but he was nowhere to be found.

In total, she estimates that she approached about 50 different companies, and they all turned down. Everything got so terrible: "I was thinking about asking my husband because he has a big thick beard and kind of long hair." Finally, one company responded to her request through the GigSalad website. Bryant signed a $ 320 contract for two hours of Santa Claus with a fake beard: "If we wanted a real beard, that would be a hundred dollars more." But she has no idea who is coming to the party.

“I don't even have a picture of Santa. I don’t know what he looks like, ”she says. "The woman I spoke to on the phone from the company said Santa will contact you 48 hours before the event."

According to Bryant, the worst-case scenario is the plot of the movie Bad Santa, in which Billy Bob Thornton stars as a sexually anxious Santa, an alcoholic who works as a professional thief.

A nationwide shortage of workers has affected a variety of industries, including fast food, textile factories and long-distance trucking. The crisis stretches all the way to the North Pole: while the large shopping malls mostly protect their Santa Clauses (they sign contracts with them for months in advance), there is not enough Santa to meet the demand for holidays and festivals this year. Low pay isn't the problem - the average rate for a hired Santa Claus is $ 30 an hour, and many seasoned Santa Clauses make $ 150 an hour or more.

On the subject: Why on New Year's Eve a trucker is more important than Santa Claus

“I have noticed that the number of requests has increased dramatically, but when everything is already taken and I can’t do anything,” says Doug Eberhard, Santa Claus from Charlotte. "I have 92 booked events before Christmas."

The Santa Claus Agency and Mrs. Klaus HireSanta have been denying requests for weeks.

“Hundreds of people come to us every day,” says founder Mitch Allen. “We always have sales on weekends, but it usually happens after Thanksgiving. This year all Santas were fully booked by the first week of November. "

The pandemic has hit the Santa Claus community hard for obvious reasons: Many of the men playing this role are at high risk of a COVID-19 pandemic due to their age. Santa's physique tends to have potential comorbidities, starting with a high BMI.

“Several hundred Santa Claus have passed away in the past 18 months, and this is just a tragedy,” Allen says, although he warns that not all of these deaths could be attributed to COVID-19. Others, fearing the risk of being around potentially unvaccinated children, have decided to take another pandemic leave or retire.

Santa Tim Connagan, dubbed "National Santa Claus" for his role in major parades, polls his fellows every year, reporting that 18% of Santa Claus survivors have taken a vacation. This year he is taking fewer bookings so he can spend more time with his family.

“I got all the vaccinations and I'm taking very good care of myself,” says Connagan. "But I want to stay careful, you know, and I also encourage other Santas to do the same."

Mezzanine Bicomb is the founder of Circus Modern, a San Francisco-based talent brokerage for stilt walkers, acrobats, and other party performers including Santa Clauses. Each holiday season, she brings together a troupe of five Santas, who take orders for visits to private houses. But she lost several regulars to travel and illness and began looking for a replacement after Halloween. She quickly realized she was behind schedule. She posted several job advertisements on the Internet. But things didn't go as planned.

“The people who responded were very young to be Santa Claus,” she says. - Others didn't want to work on Christmas Eve. Several of the applicants were construction workers with no experience in playing or working with children. Of the candidates, she only hired one person who is probably too young for the job - she will fix it with stage makeup. "

Rather than digging fruitlessly, it seems like the easiest thing to do would be to hire your grandfather or uncle - or, indeed, any man with a beard and a twinkle in his eyes, right? But this also has its own problems. Santa is nothing without his red fur-lined suit, and so are the supply chain problems.

“There are many essential items that are still in containers at sea,” said a spokesperson for Costumes for Santa. - Our wholesalers did not receive goods from China. Things that should have arrived in August are only starting to arrive now. "

You may be interested in: top New York news, stories of our immigrants and helpful tips about life in the Big Apple - read it all on ForumDaily New York.

“Meanwhile, aspiring Santa Clauses are buying costumes and accessories in record numbers, perhaps to do some magic. At Party City, we are already seeing a significant increase in purchases of Santa Claus costumes, hats and accessories from last year, as well as growth from pre-pandemic Christmas 2019, ”says Julie Roeem, director of marketing and experience for the company.

Eberhard Charlotte also owns the Pro Santa Shop and most of the items are already out of print.

“I sold four or five of my personal suits at a premium just because people were desperate,” he says.

But one suit may not be enough. An unverified Santa can ruin a child's Christmas and undermine their sense of trust if they are not adept at the art of improvisation.

“Many of them just think that by wearing a beard and a Santa Claus costume, the kids will believe them, and some will believe them,” says Eberhardt. "But for the most part it's not very believable."

Perhaps this lack is an opportunity to rethink what makes Santa "believable." For most of the last century, this meant a man who was plump, gray-bearded, old, and generally Caucasian. Maybe the gap in the market will open up opportunities for Santa Clauses who don't fit into the basic pattern: black, deaf, Hispanic.

Connagan is trying to create a talent pool through the Old Navy-sponsored Santa Bootcamp, which recruits Santa Clauses from a variety of backgrounds.

For example, Hunter Woodson, who has plenty of performances despite being clean-shaven, has a baby-faced 21-year-old. His suit is so good that when people see him without a suit and a beard, they say: "Come on, he can't be, he's just a child."

He plays along with the fact that he walks with his shoulders down, but he can also perform tricks that other Santas would not be capable of. Woodson founded the Blue Ridge Christmas Cottage, a tourist attraction in Lovingston, Virginia, and he climbs down the chimney during performances.

“It's cramped up there, but it works,” he says.

Or there are Santas who approached their role in a completely different way. Rosario Smyrne, 42 was moved by the spirit of the holiday and took part in the game, planning to donate his proceeds to charity. He has short black hair, only a few strands of silver in his dark beard, and looks younger than his age. Therefore, he called himself "Santa Maverick".

If children ask why he doesn't look like Santa, whom they saw on TV, he has a ready answer that he usually looks like that.

“As we get closer to Christmas, my beard gets longer, it gets whiter, and I get a little better,” he explains. - That's when I dress in a red and white suit. And this is my current state right now. "

He doesn't know if it really works, but people are booking him.

“In 12 hours, I had 27 offers,” he says.

On the subject: Santa Claus Village: A Snowy Tale Nestled in the Middle of Sunny California

Maybe Santa's alternative shouldn't be Santa at all. Connagan sent Santa's wife to where Santa isn't.

“She might say Santa is so busy, so he asked her to come in and see what the kids wanted for Christmas, and then she would tell Santa,” he says.

But Mrs. Klaus is also missing. Justin Raprager spent weeks looking for Mrs. Klaus to complete his farm in Odessa, Florida for the winter festival. Of the 50 applications he received, the overwhelming majority did not respond, and the few who showed up were unable to fill enough shifts.

“It shouldn't be that hard,” laments Raprager. “It's a fun job that pays between $ 20 and $ 25 an hour, and the only job is to sit in a chair and read books to children. Experience is not required. "

She “cannot be a sex offender or have a felony. They should be cute, be able to read and love children. You know, these are the only requirements, ”he says. There are free lunches and holiday bonuses.

He has one promising candidate, an English as a foreign language teacher, but she can't work all season. Another Mrs. Klaus offered to come from Minnesota if he would pay her living expenses, which would significantly increase his budget, but "honestly, we have to consider this." Fortunately, he managed to keep his Santa Claus from last year.

But despite the dismal results this year, there is still some good news. Even if Santa can't come to the Christmas tree or a corporate party, "Santa Claus will definitely deliver gifts under the Christmas tree."

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