Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Lead Foot Santa

One of the highlights of my visit to Plaza Bonita was Hyundai's Califronia Drive Inn, and yet I knew it was a mistake. Well I got the 3:00 a.m. wake up call tried to gather my wits loaded up my trunks and headed to the airport. I took the rental car back and they took me to the terminal. I thought good I can get checked in throught security and maybe take a nap while I waited for the plane to start boarding. There was no one at the counter so I went to the self service check in and could not get it to work. then I read the screen and it said that it would not be operational until 4:33 a.m. Then this lady comes along and opens them up and says they will not start until 5:00. I was sure security would be holding me up and I would have to make a mad dash for a plane.
As it turned out I was delayed by security seems my suspenders are the culprit. I went up the stairs and was right at my gate. The flight to Denver was peaceful I think there was a short nap. A little over 2 hours layover. The meeting that I was looking forward to did not take place. My flight from Denver to the North Pole was very crowded a jolly old fat man just doesn't fit well in those little airplane seats.
When I got off the plane Mrs. Claus and my number 1 elf were waiting for me with my new suit from Adelles of Hollywood. So I changed into it immediately and we headed off to see Adam on what has become an annual Christmas day visit. He was just as surprised as he has always been. We had a great visit this year I tried not to show how tired I really was. And he introduced me to his new dog, Sunshine who was a bundle of excited fur and did not sit still much. Then Adam had to show me his new recliner and flat screen T.V. of course I already knew about them. Adam Santa & Mrs Claus.
Of course Santa had to try out Adam's new recliner it was the most comfortable seat I have been in in 45 days. So our visit complete with Adam we headed across town to visit with John and his Family. John's Company is the one who cuts out my belt buckles so I can do the finish work on them. This photo of Santa in Adam's chair shows a fair view of one style of buckle.
Now the next information came from a local paper I have tried to edit it to keep some people from knowing exactly where this Santa's North Pole is located. There is one error it says that I was driving 50 miles per hour and when Officer Green came up to the window he told me I was going 40 mph. Another error is where it says I worked as Santa Claus there. What it should have said was that I was Santa Claus there. This is my take on the situation as it happened. I was driving north bound when I noticed the Police car and looked down at my speedometer and knew I was going to fast so I slowed down. Then he turned around coming up behind me with his lights on. I pulled over and he told me I was going 40 mph. He informed me that he was just going to give me a warning, but he needed to see my drivers license so I pulled out my little ID keeper and started to open it up so he could see the regular one. Then I decided it was Christmas and I had my suit on so I should show him my North Pole License. That has usually gotten a chuckle and then I am asked for the real thing. But Officer Green was going right along with it and he called in on his radio, need a 29 check on a license. There was a brief silence then he said it is out of the North Pole, last name of Claus first of Santa, long silence then the dispatcher came on and siad he's not in the system. Officer Green handed me back my I.D. and asked me to slow down and have a Merry Christmas. I thought that it was over. The next evening when the elf came home from work he brought me a copy of this article.
Police give Santa Christmas Gift
Great Falls Police Officer John Green pulled over Santa Claus on Christmas for speeding but declined to write him a ticket.
"Oh, he was jolly," Green said of Claus.
But otherwise, Green discovered that at least two commonly held beliefs about Claus are incorrect.
Claus is widely believed to drive a sleigh and live in the North Pole.
In fact, Green said, Claus drove what appeared to be an Oldsmobile, or a similar mid-size American car. His driver's license showed that he resides in _______.
Sunday afternoon, Green pulled over a car heading north on 38th St. near Schulte's Coffee House. The driver clipped along at 50 miles an hour in a 25 mph zone, he said.
When Green approached the car, he noticed that the driver wore a full beard and a big red shirt.
Green asked for identification, and the driver handed him a driver's license that identified him as Santa Claus.
Claus explained that he was just getting back to _________ from a seven-week stint in San Diego, Green said. (He had worked as Santa Claus there.)
Claus told Green he was "tired," but Claus did not try to talk himself out of a ticket, Green said.
Green wasn't inclined to issue a citation, either.
"I can't give the big man a ticket," he said.
Instead, he issued Claus a verbal warning.
He said that by issuing the warning, he hoped to avoid a lump of coal in his stocking next year.
Sunday, Lt. Tito Rodriguez defended Green's decision to let Claus off with a warning.
Claus might have a valid reason to exceed the speed limit, Rodriguez said.
"Santa's got a lot of ground to cover," he said.
Green, however, said he wasn't likely to write anyone a ticket on Christmas.
So now we start off to visit John's Family again Mrs. Claus had told me it would be all adults so I thought it could be interesting. As we were walking up to the house out of the garage comes Rusty as it turns out Rusty is one of Santa's special friends. He was interesting to say the least, and an unexpected pleasant surprise. We had a fun visit with Rusty.
Now it's time to go to the hospital and see my mother in law. She had broke her hip on Wednesday and the put a pin in it. She was still in a lot of pain and not wanting to listen to any of the Doctors or Nurses, I guess that is the way it gets as you get more mature. By now Santa is totally exhausted ready to go home for a home cooked meal, kick back in my favorite chair and watch all the good Christmas movies that Mrs. Claus had taped for me. So I hope all have had a Merry Christmas and wishing everyone a Happy New Year. I will be making post on here from time to time just not every day for awhile. It should be at least everyweek though.

Wrap up for 2005 season

I know the date is not set at Dec. 24 but this blog puts in the date that you write the blog. So we will go back to Dec. 24th. I think at one point today the line was taking 3 1/2 hours to get to Santa. There were times in the previous 2 days where the line had got to be 2 hours long. I was so greatful for security today or I never would have got a break. It was nice being able to go to their potlock some great food.
The gift package that I received from Plaza Bonita was wonderful I will always cherish the card holder engraved with I BELIEVE on the cover. Mrs. Claus enjoyed her gift as well. especially Santa getting back home. Now I am getting ahead of myself. We had 261 visits on the 24th and 1 dog. That brought the season total to 6,423 and 19 dogs. So over the 42 days there we averaged 152.92857 visits per day. That was 396 hours on the Santa set which amounts to 16.219696 visits per hour. So as an estimated that would come to about 30,000 flashes going off at me. that is guessing only 5 flashes per visit, and I am sure there was more than that.
The most asked gor gift by little girls was a Dora talking Kitchen, for the little boys it was Thomas the train. The bigger kids wanted the previously mentioned high priced items. Two of the best requested gifts in my books was the boy who just wanted his family and friends to have a wonderful Christmas and nothing else. Then the little boy who just wanted a old fashion spinning top.
I was relieved to get back to my motel the people at Holiday Inn Express had treated me so well as good as Westfields Plaza Bonita Team. I filled up the rental car with gas, ordered a Pizza and shared it with Kyle at the front desk. Then finished my packing so I could get to bed early for a 3:00 a.m. wake up call to make my flight. I think it was closer to 11:30 before I got to sleep.
Check back in tommorrow for the trip back to the North Pole, There you will find out about lead foot Santa.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

38 hours til Santa arrives back at north pole

It is real close to time to close out this Santa's Christmas season. Yes I said Christmas season not Holiday I am not very politically correct today. I do not do that to offend anyone as I will and do recongize all of the other holidays that are celebrated.

Thank God for the Children they really do make it all worth while. Yesterday and today as well I experienced some of that Holiday spirit the people who have done nothing for the last 40 days and then all of a sudden they have to go do some shopping and while they are at it they will do photos with Santa. That isn't bad but this is one Santa who has no super powers. When I start sitting in the chair at 8:00 in the morning I still need to have lunch and relax for a bit. Then after another 4 hours I would like to take another break have some dinner and relax a bit. Then at 9:00 p.m. I am ready to go home and relax a bit before I try to get some sleep so that I can start the whole thing all over again at 8:00 a.m. The problems the last 2 days is that Parents do not seem to think I should take those breaks or leave at 9:00p.m. Those are the ones that spoil it. And they ones who want to make big issues out of things that should have just been left alone.

This is why I do this Santa stuff after I returned from lunch a little boy who had waited in line between 1 1/2 to 2 hours sat on my lap with his brother and sister they got the photo taken and I asked what they wanted for Christmas. The one boy says he just wants all of his friends and family to have a Merry Christmas. Then a couple of visits later another boy responded to the same question with I really don't want anything. Especially after all the request I received for these items X-Box 360 priced around $450.00 if you could find one. I-Pods at $300.00 PSP's at about $250.00 and cell phones for 8 year olds. That might not have been bad but I could not count the number of children who wanted at least 2 of the above items if not all of them. It sure made me feel for some parents bank accounts. These people sure did some great marketing.
That was so refreshing. today at 2:45 we had our 6,000th person make it to the Santa set. The day ended with a daily total of 339 the third largest day of the season. bring us to 6,162 visits with one more day to go.
Jeff finally got in the spirit even if his hat made him look like a Santa puppy dog. I think the Polar Express finally got him. A big thanks to Jeff for taking the worry off me in regard to Mrs. Claus's rocking horse.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

2 Days With 20 Hours Left on the Santa Set

As much fun as it is with the children after being away from home for 42 days I am looking forward to taking a break from all the noise. Spending some quality time with my wife and son and having my dog tell me off for being gone for so long. About my dog Mrs. Claus found him along the road about 9 years ago while we were still dating. She really did not want to keep him but after I saw how he protected her I convinced her it would be the right thing after no one claimed him. Well Cody has become rather spoiled and he really likes to go to the local cafe with me when I go down for coffee. So he jumps in the back of the truck and while I am in the cafe he sits on the roof waiting for me to come out. Well on the occasions that he has been left home for one reason or another, when I return he starts talking to me sounds like scoobey doo. So when I get home from this trip I am sure I will get an earfull about being gone so long then he will let me know about everything that has happened while I was gone.

Some good byes started today first was Lupe from here at the motel she will be going to Mexico with her family for the holidays. Then this afternoon Trish the administrative assistant, said goodbye as she is getting a long weekend off. Jose from building maintenance left this evening for New Mexico to spend time with his family.

I will start adding photos from my visit at Plaza Bonita this year.

The one to the left is my friend Trish

This one above is Sarah Tricia's daughter who is one of my biggest believers

I cannot forget the ladies in the concierge so here
goes the first one now I have done it I think it is Yvonne. She was testing me on Westfield Standards and was one of those who always had a smiling face. She was sweet enough to bake me up a miniature loaf of banana bread that unfortunately got misplaced before I had a chance to try it.It was difficult to get all of these ladies together for one photo they were always so busy helping people at Plaza Bonita and I am sorry I did not get photos of all of them and if I get a name wrong please feel free to correct me by responding in the comments section.

Now we have Yolanda another smiling face who was always happy to see Santa. She fixed me up with the cutest Santa Decoration with candy in it.

Now I will really get in trouble as I have forgot this ones name completely. I do know that her and her sister both work as concierges at Plaza Bonita.

Now I will really get in trouble as I have forgot this ones name. I do know that her sister is also a member of the concierge staff. And they are the ones who suggested that I purchase the frozen dinners at the store rather than having to eat from the food court all the time. That saved me a lot of headaches and dollars. Everyone in the concierge were very good to me. Well I think I will let this one be done and go on to the next one

We are having fun

Mrs. Claus gave me my morning wake up call and told me that her mother had indeed broke her hip and they will be doing surgery on her this morning.

A few blogs back I mention having a lady from the Club Walkers who was 97 years young sit on Santa's lap. well I finally got that picture due to waiting for release. I was told by one of the other club members that she has been a club walker for a long time and just recently slowed down a bit.

When I returned to my motel last night the employee party was still in progress. I had been invited to it earlier but had decided that timing would be tough it was supposed to go from 5 to 7 and I got there at 9:30 so I popped my head in to say hello to everyone. The staff here at Holiday Inn express has done a great job. More of those always friendly faces helping to make me feel at home. So last night we managed to get a few photos of staff sitting on Santa's lap in front of the Christmas Tree. If I get to come back to Plaza Bonita next year I will have a nice comfortable place to stay.

I Have Left out a couple people in my blog

Alright my friend Javier who has far TMI on Santa has felt left out as he has only been mentioned once in this blog so I thought I should fix it promptly. So here it is Javier is the Senior Concierge here at Plaza Bonita, I think he is responsible for all the others that work in the concierge. O. K. for those that live in the midwest it is a fancy word for guest services. For Santa they are just a bunch of neat people who do a lot of different things. But are always quick to say Hello Santa, Good Morning Santa, and then at the end of some long days they will say Good Night Santa. But it is really difficult to get them together for a group photo with Santa. So Javier you and your co harts have been mentioned and to make sure you never feel left out again I will mention you some more. Javier,Javier,Javier,Javier,Javier, JavierJavier, Javier, Javier, Javier,
Javier,Javier,Javier,Javier Javier,Javier, Javier Javier Javier Javier Javier. Now I will probably get told I spelled it wrong.

Now then I have not said a great deal about Rhonda, she is the Marketing Director at Plaza Bonita. I have 3 different photos of her and she should probably be thinking about now I hope Santa did not put a bad one in here.I have not seen a great deal of her as she is always busy doing something. I found out today that she does not like to be photographed. I did try to catch her off guard but with this digital stuff there is that slight delay that gives the person enough time to hide. So the first shot I got of her was of her hiding her face, She was then worried that people would see her desk and really find out that she does not have a sick mind. As I am sure most have heard that a clean desk is the sign of a sick mind. So she thought I should take another one I did immediately and her hair was standing out like she was flying away to her next task. I really liked that one, but she will have to keep reading to find out which one I used. The last one she actually posed for and it turned out good especially after I did some editing to it. The Photo will show up eventually in this blog.

Today was not a great day for Santa I wound up taking things far too personal, some stuff that I did not have a great deal of control over, but it will turn out alright.

Lunch was good a couple of people that I have dined with regularly at noon while the news was on. Trish and Jeff. They have made that time of day pleasant for me. And this afternoon Mr. Andy brought me in this really neat batch of cookies in a Jar that his family had made up for the each of the Plaza Bonita team. He gave it to me and said he considered me one of the team. That felt good.

Well the second generation Santa is improving, but as you can see he has my favorite person helping him out. My Mrs. Claus is giving him a little guidance I just realized he does not have his hat on in this photo and he probably does not even realize it. As I was leaving the Santa set this evening Mrs. Claus called me to let me know that she was at the hospital at the North Pole (that would be the far east for Javier) with her mother and that is appears she has broke her hip. I knew there was a good reason for not having Mrs. Claus with me this year.

We did get another pet photo in today a little boy brought in his dog it was either a chi whoa whoa or a miniature doberman, but only he would know for sure.Oh, alright we finally are getting to Rhonda's photo. I just had to go with the one of her with her hair standing straight out.

so now I will find out if she reads the blog or not Gotcha Rhonda

285 visits today for a total of 5515 for the season and 17 dogs

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

5000 That is Five Thousand

Today at noon just before I went on my lunch break we had our 5000th visitor to see Santa. I would venture a guess that we get to about 6500 by 6:00 Saturday.

At lunch today I was priveledged to have lunch with some special people. Sara, Angelina, and Simean had been building gift boxes all morning but had started watching the Polar Express Movie on dvd at about 11:00, so when I arrived our group had expanded to include Trish, Jeff, and Donna and we all finished watching the movie together. Kevin had made a brief appearance and took this photo for us

After the movie we were discussing the bell and who could really hear it ringing.

Sara got her Bell

My Escorts had decided that if they could walk Santa back to the set they would be the most popular kids around. Oh and they all had bells.

We finished the day with 310 visits bringing us up to 5230 visits so far this season

Monday, December 19, 2005

Little Sisters Make Great Secretaries

This morning started slow but a lot of fun. On two separate visits about 15 minutes apart, a brother and sister were visiting with Santa and when I asked the girls what they wanted they started spouting off all kinds of request. Then I would ask the bigger brothers what they wanted the reply was I don't know for sure. Then their little sisters would say I know what he wants and proceed to tell me they item, the bigger brothers both had said yeah that's what I want.
Before I get into too much trouble I better acknowledge the operations crew these are the guys who have to make sure that all the plumbing electrical and air conditioning is operating properly. They are also involved in making sure the Santa set is working.
Now onto other things. A lady came in this morning with her 3 boys and one of the boys said that mom said I gave her a bell last year and wanted to know if it was true. I was not sure but told him that I had. After the photos and request were done I just had to ask mom if I had. She said yes and that it had become something very special. She has started her own tradition with the bell, when they decorate their tree she puts it toward the top and magically on Christmas morning it has been moved to the bottom. She was so moved by the Polar Express and the bell that I had given her that for family gifts this year she is giving a tin of popcorn with the Polar Express DVD attached.
Well I did manage to get another dog today for a photo with the children. Well it is supposed to be a dog a little bity thing they call a chihuahua. Or as some would pronounce it Chi hooa hooa. The best part was the little boy had to hold the pet.
Today was the busiest yet as far as Santa visits was concerned. 363 visits bring our totals so far to 4,920 with 17 dogs.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Tiger Who?

This last Sunday started out kinda slow then I found out that the Chargers started playing at 10:00a.m. When I went on my lunch break I had the opportunity to watch for about 50 minutes. The highlites for that game should start out have you ever seen so many mistakes. I had to return to the Santa set with about 6 minutes left in the game. Oh well they are not my home team so no big loss. I sure thought the colts were coming back to win, only to have one of the ladies that had been standing in line tell me that the Chargers had won. I guess her telephone updated the scores for her.

This afternoon I had Tiger __ _ _ .................. his last name is that of a famous golfer from late 60's. I asked him if he played golf he said he started when was 5 so then I asked what's your handicap when he said six I laughed and so did his dad.

By dinner time we had right at 200 visits on the set, and I was feeling it so I really was ready to go a little early. When I arrived at the office for put my dinner in the microwave Donna asked if I had seen "THE LETTER" I was not sure so she said she would make me a copy. It was from the National City Adult School the Mommy & Me classes, it was a really neat letter about Santa and Westfield's Plaza Bonita signed by 24 parents. After reading that I was charged and ready to go. Another one of those warm fuzzy things.

We ended the day with 307 visits bringing the number for the season to 4557.

Only 6 days left at Plaza Bonita.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Two Front Teeth

Just an observation but it sure does seem to me like there have been a great deal more children show up this year missing at least one and in most cases both top front teeth. These children really don't want to smile but the parents seems to get a kick out of it when we get them to. It seems none of them know the song All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth.

The interesting request was from a girl about 5 or 6 and she said she wanted her family all to be together, and wanted her grandfather home. When I asked that dreaded question where is he? She very matter of factly answered that he was in jail but he did not do anything. I told her that I did not think Santa could help out that situation.

Today I was pri
velidged to have lunch with my old friend Sara and her 2 cousins Simean and Angelina. Lunch conversation was filled with questions trying to figure out if I was the real Santa. Put me on my toes pretty quick. When it was time for me to go back to the Santa set they wanted to walk back down with me. I thought it was pretty funny when they said that they would be the most popular ones around walking with Santa. Well I would have had a couple photos of all of us sitting together except for the character on the left seems to have a problem with getting a photo framed in and pushing the shutter button without shaking. That should not have been a problem as this camera has an anti shake feature on it. I am REALLY GLAD he doesn't work on the Santa set. Now the photo of this mystery man is one that I took. This next photo is one he took of his own ear, just so you can see some of his work. The photo he took of the children and I was so bad I would not even bother putting it in here. If you look real close at his ear you will be able to verify that he is one of my elves. Not one that makes me very happy as he is in charge of the inside weather conditions at the Santa and it is still not cold enough to compare with the North Pole.

I am about to decide that the biggest problem with children today is actually the parents. When we start getting the number of visits we had today it is difficult to find a slow spot for Santa to take his lunch and dinner breaks, so we have to cut the line off. This involves putting someone working on the set to stand at the back of the line and tell people that Santa will be going to lunch or dinner. This evening we sent out a young lady to do this she is a small girl who is very mild mannered and meek. Well some of the people would not listen to her and wanted to argue with her and got in line anyway, she came back into the set and about half scared said she would not argue with these people that she was not going to get into a fight with them so that Santa could take a break. We finally got the only guy working on the set this year to stand at the end of the line. By the time he managed to get there a few more families were able to get in line. I think it is a poor example to the children if you just bully enough you can get your way. Well so much for the rant. All of that goes away as soon as that first child climbs up onto my lap and looks at me with all the hope in the world.

Today we had 301 visits bringing the total so far to 4251.

Friday, December 16, 2005

This Was a Real Stinker

My friend Nathan was in the mall again today, it was not a problem at all recognizing him, today he was with Dad.

In an earlier post I had mentioned a notebook diary type book that the ladies at the Hallmark store had given me, and that it disappeared the first day. Well today a very special lady handed me a new one saying someone had read the earlier blog. It was recommended that I not leave it lay around though. The purpose behind this book was so that I could keep notes on the daily events in one special place. I sure could not remember most of these things without taking a note at some point to help me remember. I guess I have that old age disease where there are 3 things that you lose but I can't remember any more than there is an old age disease.

I get asked a lot about if the babies wet on me. To the best of my knowledge that has not happened, but with the newer diapers that are supposed to be so great how would you know. I have a few babies that while we were taking photos I was sure that they were loading up their diapers or at the very least a little gas. Today though was little different and I am sure very embarrassing for a young man of about 5 or 6. He climbed up and was sitting on one knee and his mom was sitting on the other, just as we were about to take photos and say smile say cheese the young fella had a gas attack. He let loose of one that was very loud and vibrated my leg pretty good, I was hoping it was just gas and the photographer said say cheese I just could not help it but this jolly old fat man started laughing pretty hard. The young man had a tough time smiling, and now that I look back on it mom probably thought I was the perpetrator. It was just one of those times when you are not real sure why you are doing this Santa thing, and I got a laugh out of it even if no one else did.
Today was a fairly busy day I had 237 visits today bringing the total to 3950 My guess when the day started was that we would reach 4500 by closing on Sunday

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Countdown 9 days Until My Big Night

Well let me start with some photos of the newest of Santa's helpers. Shane. The first one is of him with a long time Santa visitor from the first visit she was puzzled about the true identity of Santa. Then a couple years ago she and Mrs. Claus were working together at a catering event, and it hit her who Santa and Mrs. Claus were. She figured out the identity of this helper a lot quicker though, and she has been sworn to secrecy. The second photo of Shane is him getting ready to leave for his first appearance. And the last one he is handing out a few treats to the elementary school students at the North Pole.

Now for events at Plaza Bonita. This morning Santa made an appearance at the Club Walkers annual Christmas breakfast. I was asked how many had sat on my lap so far this year and that number as of this morning was 3576. We added another 3 right away by random drawing. Then I asked who the oldest Club Walker was and found a lady who is 97 years young so she sat on Santa's lap. So now I can say I have had them from 2 days old all the way up to 97, I did remind them that they are never too old to sit on Santa's lap for a visit to make their Christmas request.

Then it was on to WOW warm up. Where Santa was invited to Outback for Plaza Bonita's Employee appreciation dinner. Where I added 2 more to those that sat on Santa's lap and someone has photos of this one as well. I had Andy the General Manager and his assistant Kevin. I sure was glad we did not do them at the same time, even though Santa could have handled it easily. Once again Plaza Bonita went out of their way to make Santa feel like he really does have a second home.

Things are getting busy enough here that Santa will be escorted to his breaks by the wonderful security staff at Plaza Bonita.
Here a just a few of that team on picture day as the photographer and I were trying to get Percy into the right position for the photo. So today's salute will go out to Security.

These guys are probably going to have their hands full making sure that Santa gets to take his breaks without getting mobbed along the way. So Thanks for going the extra mile for Santa.

Well the memorable item of the day was behind the Santa set as a young man came charging through to say Hi to Santa, As I escorted him back to the lady I thought was his mom. She informed me that she was really step mom. After our brief private conversation Santa she decided that the step mom would leave her vocabulary and she would just be Mom. The other item of the day was when a mother told me this evening that she had brought her first son to see me Santa last year at Plaza Bonita and had decided she would never take her children any place else and tonight there was two sons. These are the things that make me want to come back to Plaza Bonita for a long time.

Todays visits came to 137 which brings the total to date this year to 3713

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Don't Let Santa Get Sick

It really doesn't get much better than today. The way this day went really helped to remind me why I am Santa. One on my first visits today was from a friend from last year, Nathan he probably made it to see Santa at least 12 times last year. He would just come walking in to remind me that he wanted Buzz Liteyear, and he wanted to make sure that I did not forget him. Today was his first time in this year and I had not forgot him, only now he wants Buzz pajamas.

Now the photo above Jacob and Joshua, they had been in a couple weeks ago and had there photos taken. I had been able to remember that part. Jacob wanted spiderman stuff and Joshua wants batman stuff. Well they came into remind me of this today. Except that Joshua was just hanging around the front of the set and when I asked mom what was wrong the reply was priceless. Seems Joshua has caught a bit of a cold and he told mom that he did not want to get too close to Santa because he knew he was going to be busy and did not want him to get sick! I asked him to come in a little closer so we could get this photo. Joshua is in the orange and grey shirt and as soon as we took the picture he moved back out of the way. I really did want to just scoop him up and give him a big hug. But realizing now I only have 10 days left on the set I figured. I would let him keep his distance so that I don't get sick. Not many children will consider that type of thing.

Santa get a lot of children in daily with a variety of names however today seemed rather strange, before lucnh I had 4 different Nathan's in and 3 different Joshua's.

Then I had Ivan and Issac in this afternoon, Issac was not very cooperative he would not raise his head up to look at the camera or Santa and smiling about anything was not going to happen, even with all the usual bribes that usually work on 3 year olds. After what seemed like hours and was probably only 20 minutes 5 year old Ivan informed Santa that Issac had a girlfriend on TV. Now Issac perked right up and the exchange between the two brothers was great. We were finally able to get a photo with Issac smiling then I was able to find out that the girlfriend of whichever brother was a little girl in a pampers commercial. It was just hard to believe that one.

Now this evening was really good when I got word of a second generation Santa in my home at the North Pole. I have a 19 year old son who will be going to college in January and he was talked into putting on the Red suit to take Santa's place at some of the functions I used to do before I wound up coming to Plaza Bonita. Well tonight he did it for the first time, he went to the local elementary school Christmas program and did Santa for those Children. Mrs. Claus gave me the report and sent me a photo. He still needs some work on a few items, first of all I was told he had a really weak Ho Ho Ho that went more like hohohohohoho pretty soft and way to many. Then Mrs. Claus said he just doesn't have the girth that a Santa really needs even with padding. Evidently he did not take enough time to prepare as well, had a nice white beard and wig, but it just doesn't work with real dark brown eyebrows. Today though my Hat is off to Shane for his first try at imitating his dad, and good luck to him in the events he still has to cover in the next 10 days.

Overall today was a fun day on the Santa set, the way it is suppossed to be the children and parents were all having a good time, except for one incident where a mother rather pushed her son up through the line then managed to interrupt another family that was deciding which photos they wanted. I just thought she was being very very rude, but Santa is not the bad guy in these situations and then I found out the woman managed to get her photos without paying for them she actually just walked off with them. Oh well it takes all kinds to make the world go round.

Today we only had 83 visits bringing the total for the season to 3498.

No post from yesterday the only big event was the rubber chicken and cow that showed up a day late for Santa Paws.

I am looking for an e-mail of a photo so that I can let everyone in on the cow and the chicken that are being held for ransom from an instuctor in the military. Seems this rubber chicken and cow have been all ove the world with photos being sent to the instructor every week showing them in a different place. So yesterday they wound up on Santa's lap. more information on this will follow I hope.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Only 13 Shopping Days Left

The landscaping crew these 3 guys keep everything on the outside looking good as well as making sure the poinsettas all over inside the mall are kept watered and looking fresh. At the front entrance there are some tree planters and they even put poinsettas in there so that you get the nice Westfield red color when you come up on the main entrance it sure looks good. So todays hats off to Jorge, Julio, and Reynaldo.

Today was a busy day we had 345 visits and 12 dogs. Bringing the season totals to 3302 people visits and 16 dogs. This evening I discovered that with some dogs it should be hazardous duty conditions. I had one minature something or another that I sure thought was going to take my nose off, he was just way too excited. Then there was this pair of dogs one white and one black, some kind of terrier it was hilarious the black one acted like a big kid and the white one sat there on a little boys lap actually whimpering and crying like a little baby. The big dogs were easy, they did not get hyper or anxious at all. It was a lot like the people now that I look at it. The little ones are tense and the big ones are laid back and easy going.

This really does change my perspective on the comparison. A few post back I discussed how some children are just going to cry and you can tell which ones they are almost at first glance. What you can't tell is which ones are the kickers and screamers, those are the ones where Santa needs to have special protection or make sure of where those little feet are going to go when they start in. I have started referring to those as rodeos. I can tell the girls on the camera here comes a rodeo so they are ready to try to get that first quick shot. Like any rough stock events at a rodeo you have to stay on for 8 seconds. Well if I can help it at all those rides don't last more than 3 or 4 seconds. So as a cowboy I would never make it.

A milestone today # 3000 was a little girl named Tiffany

Now for the best request of the day 2 little girls one I would guess to be about 8 the other about 4 both dressed in identical black and gold dresses. I asked the little one what she wanted and she started rattling all sorts of different items she wanted I was not sure she even took a breath and she just kept on going like the energizer bunny. Then as soon as I could get a chance to ask the older one what she wanted, she looked at the little one and said I just want my little sister because I just love her so much. That was when mom told me that they had just adopted the younger one, and the older one just grinned and nodded her head it was just too sweet.

Whenever I have the right crew on the set they will find out what the next childs name is and let me know it so that I can call that one up to sit on my lap it has a real nice affect with the children. Today however I got caught off guard, the girl working the front of the line came up and said Marion wanted to get her photo with Santa. So I looked at the next little girl in line and said ok Marion its your turn to come and talk to Santa. Only to have a lady who I thought was her grandmother come up and say she was Marion. While we were taking the photo she told me she was going through a bunch of old photos and found one where her mother and sister had taken with Santa years ago. She told me that her sister had passed away this year and she thought she would just come to get her photo taken with Santa in memory of the other two. I would almost bet that this one had called Plaza Bonita earlier and talked to Alicia in the office.

When I went up for lunch today Alicia had told me about this call. The lady asked if there was a real Santa there or if they just had one of those young guys with the fake beard. Alicia informed her that Plaza Bonita had the one and only the real Santa. So Alicia gave me one of those warm fuzzy feelings today and I thanked her. She said it was just the truth. Alicia and her daughter Liz had caught me at Wal Mart a couple nights ago while I was trying to get some of my grocery and water purchases done. So she told me today that I had to be the real Santa when I have teens coming up to me in my street clothes and saying as they are just passing by Whasup Santa. Well that is just the way it is when you are Santa all year round, I get the same type of response all year long not just at Christmas time.

more later

Saturday, December 10, 2005

From Birth Parents to Big Screen TV's

This is just six of the 21 people in housekeeping who work so hard at keeping Plaza Bonita as immaculate as it. If there is a spill or some other cleanup that needs done this crews moves in fast to take care of the problem. I think the Santa set just makes a lot more work for them as they have to come by and vacuum it twice a day. Not only that but the glass around the upper mezzanine that over looks the Santa set gets a lot of little ones pressing their noses up against it trying to get a better look at Santa. So today housekeeping gets the applause.

Not to brag or anything but Santa really did surprise himself today, a little girl came up with a drawing for Santa, and wanted a photo so I was talking to her and trying to figure out her name no one was around to give any assistance on this one and there was no necklace or bracelet to look at nothing for even a clue. I told her that I was trying to remember her name but that there were so many children that I had seen that the names were pretty mixed up at that time. Then I took a really wild guess and said you must be Jasmine, when she told me I was right I thought I was going to fall out of the chair. Just a real lucky guess though.

Santa does get a variety of request each day, today's were a little different in range I had one little boy ask for a Yo Yo and that was all he wanted, I was tempted to just run up to KB toys and just buy one for him right away. Then there was the little girl who asked for a big screen TV, I had to ask her several times to make sure of what I was hearing. Then once it was confirmed a quick look around and I spotted Dad so I asked her if he had put her up to it. She said no he already has one downstairs. Seems to wanted one in her room to play video games on. Talk about going over the top. The one that really got to me today though was the one where the young lady asked to meet her birth parents. I had to let her know that was not one of the request that Santa could handle for her, but I was sure that when she got older she could make that happen. She did let me know that there was nothing wrong with her adopted parents and that brought out a sigh of relief.

For a short while this evening I thought a riot was going to break out when I saw a mom and her 2 daughters in Raiders outfits. They waited in line to get there photos taken with Santa and when it came their turn they tried to get me to put on a Raiders hat that looked like a Santa hat.
I told them I just could not put on that hat but that I would not hold it against them just because they are Raiders fans. Now I should probably make it clear that I am not a Chargers fan either. My team loyalty from way back has been with the Broncos. So now I have created a problem for myself by letting that information be known.

The visits for today came to 245 for a season total of 2957 and now we only have 14 nights left before we head back to the North Pole.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Santa I Want a New Baby Brother

The management and office staff from Plaza Bonita sure likes to cut up at least once a year when it comes to taking a photo with Santa. Alright Santa looks forward to this photo opportunity as well, just so you know Andy (the guy in the rear on my left) did a very good job of staying away from me this year. I don't think he liked what Santa did to him last year.

This morning started out again with the last two Mommie and me groups for the year. 33 children between the groups. One of the little girls in this group wanted to make sure that I did not miss a thing she wanted for Christmas. I think she found a toy catalog and she must have cut out most of the toys in it. When she climbed up on my lap she started through this stack of little cutouts identifying each of the toys she had picked out and making sure that I was looking at the right side of each of these cutouts. After about the first 10 I suggested that she leave me the stack and I would figure out which ones she would be getting. There must be at least 40 little cutout pieces that I need to go through.

One of the many things that makes me feel all warm inside is when I get to see people on a regular basis or at least the little ones once a year. This evening I had a brother and sister who had been into see me last year. His mother reminded me that he was the one who asked for a new little brother last year. Last year I did not see any dad around and I knew I sure was not going to be able to help him with his request and mom had a look of shock on her face when he asked for that. I did tell him that was probably not going to happen, so he had asked for a puppy and I went into my regular routine about having pets on the sleigh and how the reindeer act up so that would not work either, I think he settled for power rangers last year. This year big sister asked for a bell from Santa's sleigh. When I asked her why she would want one of those she told me so that she would always believe. They both received bells this year. Oh but dad showed up this year and provided the laugh of the day. He asked his son if he had requested an x-box 360 for dad. The request from anyone usually generates a rather jolly laugh as Santa says not this year. But when Dad asked I said to the young boy he would probably have a better chance of getting a new little brother. Mom and Dad laughed along with me on that one.

I had a rather someone come by the set today and say that I looked so real that they thought I had a phoney beard. Maybe that is why some of the older people question whether it is real and want to pull on it.

A great group of seniors here at Plaza Bonita that meets for coffee and maybe they do the mall walk thing as well, but they are here almost everymorning about 8:30. They buy their coffee from McDonalds because all the lids are black. Last week they stopped me on my way down to the WOW warm up and wanted to take a photo, which just happens a lot. Today as I was coming up to them and saying good morning they stopped me again, this time they handed me a ziplock bag that had 2 tree ornaments made from the black coffee lids with my photo in the center as well as 4 more photos. I think maybe they are into recylcling as they had told me they were just trying to come up with something to make out of the empty coffee cups.

Oh I sure cannot forget this part, When I found out I was coming back to Plaza Bonita earlier this year I had put in a request for a Santa mailbox. This afternoon one showed up on the set, I was told that Melissa one of the concierge picked this one up for the set and even paid for it out of her own pocket just so Santa would have a mailbox. It is a really cute box that has a request on one side. Santa Please Stop Here! I think it is GREAT.
Today I had 180 visits for a total of 2712 visits for the year

Picture Day

Sounds strange picture day for a Mall Santa. It was an early day for Santa as it photo day for Team Plaza Bonita. They have a real professional photographer come in before the Center opens and they take group photos with Santa. It starts with everyone who can show up for the morning photo. As in the above photo there are only 26 of the 68 team members. There are a lot of people doing things here to maintain a Center that is always clean and comfortable to walk into.

And just as luck would have it the standard for the day was #10. Take pride in your personal appearance. Everyone is responsible for projecting a professional image by following the Westfield Style Guide (uniform and appearance specifications). It is a good thing for Santa that the Westfield color is Red. I think that puts me into the correct style guide.

During warm up this morning several groups of my special friends came into the Center and when they saw Santa there was no hesitation they came right up to me. Like I have said in the past I try not to interrupt the warm up with these extra Santa greetings. This morning though I did not see them coming, and the whole Plaza Bonita team welcomed them to WOW while I was able to say Hello to all of them and invited them to the Santa set a little later. I suggested to their teacher that they might want to walk around the Center for awhile first though. I had 2 different groups of mommy & Me waiting for me this morning, as it turned out it was around 35 children. Before noon I had over 50 visits.

Hershey Chocolate is doing a promotion with candy bar flavored cookies. So there was some special decorating going on so that this can all be displayed on the Santa Set. One of those people helping to decorate cookies for this was 11 yr. Old Sara. The reason I mention her is that too many 11 year olds quit believing in Santa and it is such a great loss to a child's innocence. Sara had a conversation with her mom that was shared with me about how her cousins do not believe, her mom asked her the perfect question, what to you believe? She told her mom that she believed in Santa, that is good maybe we would not all be so hard core if we had been able to maintain that belief as we were growing up. So Sara always remember that the true magic and spirit of Christmas lies in your heart.

That sure keeps this Santa going all year round. I tried to enlarge this photo and it did not really work in this format. I will attempt to add photos by departments in the future

So now the countdown really gets going only 16 days til Christmas visits today were 129 with a total to date for the season of 2,532.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

No more pets for Tim

Today started out just super for me. Robert who at one time was the GM at Plaza Bonita and now has a position higher up so he visits a lot of Westfield properties, informed all at the warmup this morning that the best Santa was at Plaza Bonita. Little things like that do a lot to make me feel good about what I do. I tried to graciously say Thank You, a couple other people had said that they already knew that.

Then Dinner time came around and I was able to visit with 6 year old Hana and 18 mo. old Chris. They are the children of Tim and his sweet wife, whose name I do not recall I would like to think that is because Time did not introduce us. Chris was busy doing his own thing but Hana on the other hand gave me 35 minutes of intense family history. Her redish blond hair and freckles she stood out. She let me know she was not all that excited about being Irish. I also got enough information to know that Tim should not own any more pets. For those that know him you might ask him about puppy dog tails.

After Dinner the Santa set turned into a very busy place, I did not think we had 50 visits all day to that point, then ended the day with 125 visits for a total todate of 2266

Monday, December 05, 2005

Gregg Rogers Elementary School

Today started out great while I was at the Warm up this morning, as usual I had several children who wanted to say Hi to Santa. I have tried to position myself so as not to be a big interruption on the warm up when this happens. But this morning I was on the opposite of where this large group of my special friends came through, so I had to go right through the middle of the warm up to greet them. I had a few candies in my bag but not near enough to go around for all of them. So I told them to come see me at the Santa set and I would be there soon.

When I arrived at the set they were all there waiting. I found out that their teacher had brought the class in last year to see me. Her comment was that she thought I had treated the children so special that she had told everyone about the Santa at Plaza Bonita. There were 13 children total with 3 or 4 in wheel chairs. I found out that this school has a 6th grade service club and 3 of it's members were there helping out with today's outing, as well as 4 teachers. I thought it was really nice that these children could have an outing like this to visit Santa. The best part of this though was the 6th grade service club, children helping special needs children and not looking down on them.
Today we had 99 visits for a total to date of 2141

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Santa Paws gave time for Pause.

It is really nice to know that there are a few children in this world who really do care about others. This morning 9 year old Javier came to see me with his two sisters the girls asked in turn for a Dora Doll, Dora talking kitchen and a Cinderella bike. Then the other one asked for an ipod and a cell phone. Now I asked Javier what he wanted and he said he had a simple request, he wanted the children who were not getting anything to have something for Christmas. Well that was an easy one to tell was getting a bell.

I have been getting a lot of request for those high dollar items, like lap tops, ipods, cell phones, and the best one this year is when the children ask for an x-box 360. That one is easy to respond to. I just laugh and tell them they are all gone for this year. Santa isn't going to be left out to hang on that one, and if one of these children is lucky enough to get an x-box 360 then Santa will be the real hero.

It has been interesting though that I have been asked by a few young boys for marbles, I thought I was going to fall out of my chair when I heard the first request for that one. Then today a young boy took me back to simpler times, when he asked for a top. The kind that you wind a string on the spin it off. That is a pleasant reprieve from all the high priced high tech stuff out there.

Once again Santa was serenaded today by 4 year old Emmiano, I was able to listen to all of Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer in Spanish. Just another one of those special moments he sounded very good, and I felt honored that he made that request.

Santa Paws, that is the event that went on from 6 to 9 tonight and will happen again next Sunday evening. This is where Pet owners can bring in their pets to have them photographed with Santa. Well it seems as though it was a real bust this week. I had 2 chihuahuas on my lap tonight and that was it for pets. Oh I forgot to mention that a lady brought her dog in yesterday for a photo with Santa, a day early but we cheerfully oblidged her. It was a strange looking dog though, black and white looked like it might have been part chihuahua and part something else. But I did not laugh when she brought it out of her purse.

It was rather quiet tonight but that may have been due to the Chargers, Raiders game being played just a few miles up the road.

Up until 6:00 this evening I had 159 Santa visits after that we added another 64 during Santa Paws of which only 2 had paws. So a running total as of today is 3 dogs 2042 people.

This is gonna be quick but good

First off thanks to all of you who send me your comments, and let me know that you enjoy what happens in Santa's Adventures. That lets me know that others are enjoying the experience as much as I. I am doing this one Sunday Morning for Saturday due to the fact that I came home last night and was dead tired crashed and burned a lot of logs.
The big one for Saturday was Nathan, he sat in my lap and said, "Santa I didn't want to say this but some people say you are not real!" I then asked what he thought and he said I believe you are real. That's when I said to him, you are the only one that matters to me, and always remember the true spirit and meaning of Christmas lies in your heart!!! He walked away very happy, and knew what he was going to tell those nay sayers.
I had 324 visits yesterday which brought the total to 1819 for the year.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Mommy & Me

There are groups of momma & me here in this part of the world I first met them last year as one week a group leader brought her classes or group in each morning. They started in this week and I felt so bad for missing those 2 days. I really want to see the children, but I really don't want them to get sick because of me. Well the last of this weeks groups came through this morning, it was an infant group so it was an easy go through thank God some extra help showed up to get us through that one.

This afternoon as I finished up lunch I had 3 visitors K, A, & D. Last year D wanted nothing to do with getting any photos done. So when D. showed up in the stroller asleep. Cameras seemed to have come out of everywhere and D. got tricked lots of pics with Santa. They later came down to the Santa set and all 3 were very good about getting there photos taken this time.

This evening I received a very pleasant surprise. A young lady by the name of Asia was standing in front of the Santa set then one of the girls working on the set came back and said that I was getting serenaded. So I invited Asia back so I could here her signing. There can be so many different background noises going on in a center like this it makes it difficult to hear one single voice. This young lady appeared to be about 4 years old and had the marvelous voice of a well trained adult. It was a real pleasure to listen to her sing. It was a song I am not familiar with but had something to say about taking care of my heart.

Well my voice was still gravelly today, but I did not loose it. I had 86 visits today for a season total of 1495 for the season.

Anyone can put on a Red Suit.....Not all are Santa's

Everyone at Plaza Bonita was glad to see me back today, even the crew from Cherry Hill, then I found out that no one liked the replacement santa. Well I have to admit that I did have some reservations about the replacement santa they had found for me, when I saw the package of cigarettes hanging out of his pocket. I found out that he wasn't a very pleasant guy to work with and had even been rude to some people telling them they could not take their own photos. Then I saw a photo of him with a child downright scary. Some of the stories I heard made me shudder, when the crew from Cherry Hill was embarrassed and ashamed to take photos of this guy you know it is not good. One of the security guards came up to me and said he was ready to take off his button that said I Believe in Santa. It just proves to me once again that anyone can put on the red suit, but it doesn't make you Santa. I made no mistake by not capitalizing santa above, that is reserved for Santa's with honor.

I felt bad about the replacement they had for me, I wish it could have been different. I had tried to work on preventive measures so that I would not be getting sick. I am feeling better just a little gravelly voice. We are almost to the halfway point so we should be able to finish up, without any hitches.

It seems that Cherry Hill is going to back off and not come across harsh on the no personal photo set up. I like that because there are people who really cannot afford those photos with Santa and they should not be penalized. When I was growing up my family sure could not afford those photos, let alone a visit to Santa. So I was glad to see the memo about relaxing the rules. If it were up to me everyone would get a photo with Santa for free but alas I am only a majority of one.

The sad news of the day was when I found out that Andy the General Manager at Plaza Bonita will be leaving, seems that his higher ups want him to move up to a larger mall. It is sad for all at Plaza Bonita I even got the feeling that Andy was sad to say he would be leaving. But it is a good opportunity for him, and that is what we are all looking forward to a chance to move up.

89 visits today with a season total to date of 1409