Former Mall Santa Talks About His Job

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, December 22, 2006

Bryan Wilkes used to work for a California congressman and these days he’s in public relations.  He says the pressure on his job now doesn’t begin to compare to when he used to wear a red suit and a beard:
You’re playing an icon and you can’t screw it up.  And if you do screw it up, you’re going to ruin some kid’s life forever.
Wilkes went to Santa school before he took on his month long stint at the mall:
They really impressed upon us how to stay in character, and how to talk, how to walk, how to act, even how to wave.  Did you know that Santa Claus does not wave with his arm, he waves with his hand? It’s very much like the royal wave.
Wilkes says being a Santa wasn’t easy. 
A new national survey backs him up.  Conducted by Brand I-Q Marketing and Research, it finds half of mall Santas get their boots stepped on up to 10 times a day, 60 percent are sneezed or coughed on, and nearly all have had up to 10 children a day cry on their lap.
For Wilkes, who was a Santa many years ago, these situations are a distant memory. But he does remember the feeling of a job well done:
It was a good feeling that little kids were going away excited and happy, and I was glad that I could help really make a child’s day.
And Wilkes has one tip for amateur Santas everywhere:
You could say a good “ho ho ho” comes from the heart.  But it really comes from the diaphragm so “HO HO HO HO HO HO HO.”
After all that ho ho ho’ing….the Brand I-Q survey found the majority of mall Santa’s look forward to taking a nice, long nap.