Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Quizzing NorthPark’s Santa: Are Dallas kids naughty or nice?
He also shared funny stories, like the girl who asked for a desk and "a diarrhea that she could write in."
DALLAS Santa Claus isn't just coming to town; he's here. He's inspired children to be on their best behavior, and he'll lend an ear to youngins who want to pour their hearts out, professing to be nice and not naughty.
We caught up with Santa Claus before he finds his comfy perch at NorthPark Center.
Pegasus News: When are you heading to North Park?
Santa Claus: My first day there was the Friday after Thanksgiving. We held the traditional parade around the center at 10:30 a.m. with the tall toy soldiers and nutcrackers. My pal Scrooge was also there and we had a few words before I headed to the NorthCourt, where I read a story and then welcomed children and their wish lists onto my lap. I also picked the first name of the Salvation Army Angel Tree, which I do every year.
What do you think will be the most popular toy this year?
For the older children, say ages 8 and up, there will be many requests for electronics such as video games, iThis and iThat, and all sorts of computer games. Now the younger kids still take the traditional approach and want things like firetrucks and Barbie dolls.
Have you had to pay for any of your elves to go to college so they can program some of these technological toys?
Well, I’ve got a good group of specialized techno-elves who take care of most of that stuff. Me, I’m not much of a tech guy myself, so I let those elves go to town.
What’s the weirdest gift you’ve been asked for?
One year, I had a little girl ask me for an itty-bitty chair to go with an itty-bitty-desk and a diarrhea that she could write in. I realized later that she meant diary, but at the time I thought it was odd. Another little gal asked for a yellow teddy bear that would talk when she brushed her teeth.
What’s the most outlandish request you’ve received?
You always have the kids that come in with an 80-item list, and I always try to remind them that the toys must be split evenly between all the children in the world and ask them to pick their favorite one or two. But then you also have the children ask me for things I can’t really control, such as “make my mommy and daddy stop fighting” or “I wish my parents would get back together.” I remember a little girl, she couldn’t have been more than 3 years old, and she said all she wanted for Christmas was to see her grandma. I thought, "Well that shouldn’t be so hard, families normally get together for the holidays – no problem." Then we sat talking for a few more minutes and I figured out her grandmother had passed away that year. That was pretty rough.
How have wish lists changed since the economy shifted into a recession?
You see a lot of kids with much more modest wish lists or asking for things for other people. I get a lot of kids asking me take toys to the kids in Russia or the kids of the terrorists. I also get a lot of kids asking for me to help family members and friends if they’re in bad health or having a hard time. I had a young boy ask me one time for a new nightgown for his grandmother because hers had holes in it. He really didn’t like being able to see what was underneath.
Tell me a little bit about your pre-flight ritual.
On Christmas eve morning, I normally like to sleep in a few extra hours, or at the very least, take an afternoon nap since I’ll be up all night. I make sure to read my list not once, but twice. Mrs. Claus packs me up some goose-berry muffins and hot chocolate as a snack. I walk out to the sleigh, shaking as many of the elves’ hands as possible. By this time the reindeer are very anxious to get going, pawing at the ground. I hop into the sleigh and say the magic words, “Let’s fly!” And then we’re off around the world.
On the whole, are Dallas children naughty or nice?
I believe that there’s no such thing as a naughty child. Yes, they can be fussy and difficult when they don’t get their way, but so can adults. The children of Dallas were very nice this year.
Has coal for naughty children been replaced by anything in the 21st century?
Again, I believe, deep down, all children are nice. I usually offer encouraging words or behavioral advice. Sometimes all it takes is for someone aside from their parents to say, "Go to bed at the right time” for it to really sink in.
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