The Man in Red is Coming to Town

Welcome to Savannah, America's Most Beautiful City

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Inside Scoop on Santa!
by Kelli Nottingham

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"What made me do this job? To make people HAPPY!" joyfully exclaims Dewey Hooper.

Hooper began his career as Santa Claus in 1985, when he donned the red suit for Epworth United Methodist Church. Since that time, he has worked for charity functions, including this year's Coastal Empire Exteriors for Kids Day, and various private parties. He has also been the star attraction in the Savannah Christmas Parade for several years. Now, he’ll appear at the new Forsyth Mansions on Forsyth Park.

Hooper enjoys playing Santa because of the happiness it brings to others, particularly children. He listens, and pays attention to each individual child, bringing smiles to their faces.

"The young are excited and the older ones think back and remember how much fun it was to see Santa," he says. His focus on children permeates his non-Santa life as well, through his job as a Physical Education teacher at the Savannah Christian Preparatory School.

“I love to work with children,” he says. “ This is why I went into education."

Not all requests to Santa are happy ones. “Sometimes," he says, "children come up and ask me to have their divorced parents get back together.” Those who have lost family members also make difficult requests, but Hooper handles them with kindness and love. "When a grandparent passes away and the child wants them around at Christmas, I remind the child to imagine their grandparent in their mind and think of a happy time they had with them. I tell the child their grandparent will always be in their memory and their heart." Christmas wishes from these children can be difficult to hear, but he knows the value of his role.

"The important part is that I’m there as Santa Claus to listen."

Not every request to Santa is sad. Hooper has many comic stories, like the seven-year old girl, when asked what she wanted from Santa, replied "a bra." Santa could hardly keep a straight face!

Some Santa experiences don't involve children at all:

"When working the local mall in the morning, I sometimes have young military men come by and notice me. They look as though they are on point, checking the area. What they do is walk around the set a couple of times to be sure none of their buddies are there to see them visit Santa. After giving the all clear they come up to the set and say 'Hey Santa! I've got to get this picture so I can send it home to my mom.' Once the picture is taken, they say a quick thank you and head off as if the visit didn’t happen."

Another amusing thing happens regularly."I have children run up to see me, and then it’s like they hit a wall and stop in their tracks and won’t come any further. It’s like they become frozen in space."

Hooper is careful never to promise gifts to children, as certain gifts may be outside of the financial situation of the parents, or in some cases, outside of the realm of possibility!

"I tell the child I can not guarantee they will receive everything on their Christmas list.” He always tells the child he will do his best to get them what they really need for Christmas, and to be happy with the gifts they do receive. Sometimes he tells the children a Santa-parent conference will be necessary, particularly regarding requests for pets.

It is clear that Hooper cares deeply for children, and his role as Santa provides him with a wonderful opportunity to nurture and support them.

"At times it is difficult, but I believe I was drawn to be Santa Claus to help people feel good about themselves during the holidays. There are so many people out there who at times just want someone to listen to them. I enjoy the holidays and I wish everyone has the same opportunity to enjoy this time of year just as I do." Merry Christmas to you too, Santa!

## questions or comments? Email editor@savannahbest.com

Dewey has written a how-to book for people who would like to become Santa themselves. Named "Almost Everything You Need to Know About Santa Claus and How to Visit and Be the Man in Red," Dewey covers important topics relating to being Santa, including how to dress and act on the set, and even how to handle pets who visit Santa!

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Dewey's book for $11.75 (including shipping and handling), please send an email to santadewey12@bellsouth.net. It is also available on Amazon.com, but Dewey will be able to ship it faster than Amazon at this time of year!

If you would like to talk to Dewey about appearing at your function or party, please call him at (912) 695-0726.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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