Santa – the man and the myth

Reporter Hunter Wells getting deep and meaningful with Santa Claus.

An exclusive one-on-one, up-close and personal encounter with the fat chap in the red suit was bound to deliver some gems for The Weekend Sun reporter. And Santa didn’t disappoint.

For example. Mrs Claus does not like whiskers. Santa gets starts prepping for Christmas in August. And Santa wants movie tickets, a bottle of Scotch and mince pies for Christmas. He cusses a bit and he’s real apparently.

And he has fashion lapses. He’s not wearing any socks.

“The kids look at my beard and it’s not like those ones in the mall.

“It makes a difference and when they touch it they say ‘Mum it’s real’. Therefore I am real.” And he goes all gooey when he’s asked to hold a baby for a photo.

“They stare up at you. It’s fabulous.”

Santa’s doing some PR, a press conference for one. He’s in full kit, reclining in his Lazy Boy in the depths of Pyes Pa and reflecting.

“Kids say to me: ‘Hey Mister, you speak funny’.” Understandable because, to this reporter, Santa sounds suspiciously like a Scouser, Liverpudlian. “I just explain that it’s North Pole-ian and they buy that.” So the Beatles, Cilla Black and Steve Gerard were also North Pole-ian?

Every night counting down to Christmas, Santa takes time out from the complex logistics of global sleigh delivery systems and mixes it with believers in Plover Place in Maungatapu.

“It’s absolutely wonderful. Magic.” says Santa. What’s wonderful is Plover Place, named after a dead common wading bird, is anything but common.

The cul-de-sac is transformed into a mesmerising fairy tale of lights, lollies, laughter and goodwill. And right in the middle of the street sits Santa, from 8.30pm until a couple of hours there is quiet across the land.

“Sometimes when I ask the kids what they want, they are just gobsmacked. They go: ‘Umm …….umm…….umm?’ I ask them what an ‘umm’ is and remind them there are only so many sleeps before Christmas so they better make up their mind.” There’s the story about Lucy, a little girl with a problem of adult proportions. Lucy was on holiday from England and was out of her mind with worry that Santa wouldn’t know where she was.

Lucy’s dad has a quiet word in Santa’s ear.

“Later I spotted the wee girl wandering by and I called out to her. ‘Hullo Lucy, are you having a nice holiday?’” Lucy apparently stopped dead in her tracks and her mouth fell open.

“Don’t worry, I know where you are and I’ll be there Christmas Eve.” One very reassured and very relieved little Lucy.

There’s also the story about a woman full of Christmas cheer and a drink in her hand, who fell into Santa’s while attempting a hug. She up-ended the fat man, the chair and the drink. “She came back moments later to apologise and went arse-over-tit again, the exact same thing.” Tich tich Santa.

And there was the little boy who was so “hyper” he accidentally struck Santa in his manhood. “I nearly collapsed. Bloody hell!”

Santa’s been dropping by Plover Place and fulfilling the expectations of children for 11 years.

“I’m the only silly old bugger with whiskers and white hair who can do it.” Don’t forget the 75-year-old blue eyes that glint gifts and Christmas. He’s the real McCoy, the Santa you would wish Santa to be if he was real.

And if not real he’s canny. Because Santa waits to get signals from parents. When a child who lives in the middle of town wants a pony for Christmas, the parents will shake their heads and Santa has to let them down gently.

“I have to say: ‘Well I don’t know about that’.” But then a child will want a bike. “‘Have you been good?’ I ask them. And I’m looking at Mum and Dad for a nod and then I can say, ‘well seeing you have been good you will probably get one’.”

Did you know Santa gave out 18kgof lollies in Plover Place one year? Did you know 1000 cars passed through this Christmas enclave on just one night and did you know people pop $1500 into a bucket for Waipuna Hospice each year. One year it was $2500. Santa can be smugly satisfied. As can be all his helpers in Plover Place.

Then Santa’s grandson almost blew the myth out of the water, or Santa’s cane chair in this case. “That’s my granddad,” said the proud boy. “No it’s not!” cried the young believers. Santa’s story is still intact.

“I am in Plover Place every night til the last people have come and gone. Often I’m just packing up and another car will come round the corner and so I will sit down again.”

To clarify a point, work on Christmas begins in August because that’s when a normally clean shaven Santa starts growing his whiskers.

Then on Wednesday night Santa will put up a sign in Plover Place, Maungatapu, saying: “Gone to work”.