Everyone everywhere seems to be talking about Santa shortages this year. Walt Geer, our CEO & co-founder, was recently interviewed on a national morning show on this very subject. You can see the interview here. It’s not just a US story, we’re hearing about this all around the world. Santa performers everywhere are hanging up their hats and sleighing off into the sunset. So, what’s really going on and how do you make sure your kids get to see Santa this year?
At this point it’s indisputable, the pandemic has forever changed how people think about what really matters to them. People are moving away from high-cost urban areas, they’re taking jobs that let them work from home, and they’re putting more value in the time they spend with their family. Santa performers are no different. For many, the health risks associated with COVID outweigh the benefits of being an in-person Santa.
It’s no secret that most Santa performers are older men who maybe aren’t in the best of health and that’s a problem in the era of COVID. Have you ever wondered where this image of Santa came from? Why are they generally older, heavier men? The image of Santa that’s been popularized in North America is best described in the Christmas classic A Visit From St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore.
“His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,”
Now, consider the image of Santa popularized by The Coca Cola Company in the 1930’s when they hired the artist Haddon Sundblom. The artwork is stunningly beautiful, even if it is all about advertising. Santa is a big guy, right?
Back to the present and pressing questions, is there an actual Santa shortage and how can I make sure my family upholds our Santa tradition this year? Yes, there indeed is a Santa shortage for in-person Santa events. Hundreds, if not thousands of men, have retired from playing Santa if it requires them to commingle with the public. And that’s where Zuhoo comes in.
Zuhoo is an amazing opportunity for Santa and Mrs. Clauses to practice their craft from the comfort and safety of home. It’s a win-win for the performers and customers alike. A virtual visit with Santa on Zuhoo is an experience, not just a photo op. Our Clauses will only see 6-8 families per hour vs. the 20 - 40 families when working at the local mall. All that extra time with each family means our Clauses can have meaningful conversations that the kids absolutely love and parents cherish. It also means that once we match a Claus to a family, they’ll be together until he retires, or the kids grow out of the Santa years.
But here’s something else to consider; Not every Santa performer is a fit to play virtual Santa. We believe it’s much more challenging to perform as an online Santa. The skills it takes to look straight into that camera, project their essence through the screen and deliver the magic are different than the skills required to engage with people in person. We’re not saying it’s different good or bad, just different.
Last year we became the world’s most popular virtual Santa platform hosting families from all 50 states and 35 countries, matching them to hundreds of virtual Clauses. This year, we’ve added new Santa and Mrs. Clauses and we’re actively recruiting performers to play Black Santa and Black Mrs. Claus. There are only so many Clauses who have the equipment, skills, and desire to go virtual so we’re also seeing shortages on peak days and times for online experiences.
Don’t wait until the last couple of weeks before Christmas to book your virtual visit with Claus. It only takes a minute or two to reserve your spot. You can personalize the visit and invite guests when you have a little more time. And best of all, you’ll make sure your kids have an amazing Santa experience that’s fun, engaging, and inspiring!