The COVID-19 pandemic has caused people who work to dress up as Santa Claus to face a high risk of infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus due to having to meet and interact with many people.
Challenges with ‘Santa Claus’ during the COVID-19 pandemic
In the room of a store in Miami, Mr. Brad Six prepares to dress up as Santa Claus, wearing black boots over red pants. The hot weather forced him to ditch his traditional coat and wear a vest. Before putting on the Santa hat, the 61-year-old had to put on a plastic face mask, then pull up a chair behind a glass.
“The great thing about this job is interacting with the kids. But it has become a challenge this Christmas season. To keep the kids entertained, you need to interact with them,” said Mr Six, who has worked as a Santa costume for 35 years. People dressed up as Santa Claus during the COVID-19 pandemic are thought to be at high risk of contracting COVID-19.
“Most people dressed up as Santa Claus are in the high-risk group. They are all elderly, overweight, may have diabetes or cardiovascular disease,” said Stephen Arnold, president of the Santa Claus Association.
The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred creativity in Santa’s encounters with children. Some people have organized interactions with young children outdoors, adhering to the wearing of masks and ensuring a safe distance. Others organize online meetups.
For only 20-100 USD, depending on the duration and additional requirements, such as whether the customer wants to record the video or not, the children were able to chat directly with Santa through the screen. phone, computer.
“Santa’s safety is our top concern and this is also negotiated in the contracts,” said Mitch Allen, President of the HireSanta Association, one of the largest Santa Claus associations in the country. America, said. He said the pandemic initially decimated their business, but is slowly recovering thanks to online services.
During the regular Christmas seasons, on average, each Santa Claus earns about 5000 – 10,000 USD. For many retired seniors, this is quite an attractive income.
Jac Grimes, who dressed up as Santa Claus in Greensboro, North Carolina, has reduced his workload to a third of what it usually is. He said he did it not only for his own health but also to prevent becoming a super-spreader, fearing he would spread the virus from family to family.
At a farmers market where he used to work every year, Grimes and his wife dressed up as Santa Claus and rode in their red convertible, greeting the children from afar. They say one of the most difficult adjustments Santas have to make is wearing masks to cover their long beards.
The pandemic has led many Santas and parents to turn to online interactive sessions. Usually, parents will have to book in advance through Santa’s personal websites or agents. This makes it difficult for elderly people to dress up. They must get help from their children and others to teach them the necessary computer skills.
“I love the work that I do, it gives the kids smiles and hope. I’ll do what I can’t to change that,” said Graham, who dressed up as Santa Claus at Radio City for eight years.
This is also the goal of Mr. Six, who has settled into a 3-hour-a-day Santa costume job in Miami. As families sit in front of the glass to take pictures, Mr. Six tilts his head so the visor doesn’t reflect the camera’s flash. He happily greeted the children around the glass, listened to their wishes and did not forget to keep a safe distance of 1.8 meters.
The COVID-19 pandemic makes the work of people dressed up as Santa Claus a little lighter, because they do not have to welcome many people. However, that’s not as exciting as interacting with the kids as usual. For many families, sitting with Santa Claus, even behind a screen, is the norm in unusual times.
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