When It comes to Christmas, Santa Claus needs as much help as possible. If you’ve ever wondered where all of those Mall Santas come from, there’s a good chance they graduated from “Santa University.” The program was created by The Noerr Programs Corporation. Each year, Santa University trains over 430 Santa Claus actors to appear in 300 shopping malls across North America.
Public relations director Ruth Rosenquist says: “It’s a four-day intensive training session, and we cover every single aspect you can think of when it comes to being the consummate Santa.” The lesson plan includes the proper technique for sitting with a child on one’s lap, as well as tips for keeping up appearances while remaining in a chair for 8-12 hours per day.
Wade Burleigh graduated from the program, and has been employed as a Mall Santa for over 9 years. He says: “They taught us smaller things, like how to stay hydrated. You sit in a hot costume, sweating for a few hours, and you’re going to get dehydrated, so they taught us to always make sure we have water. However, if your body isn’t used to consuming that much water, you’ll quickly find yourself in need of a ‘Santa break.’ So, they taught us, two weeks before the gig begins, start drinking all the water you can.”
All potential Santas go through an intense background check before entering Santa University.