Over my years in the clown business I have discovered many folks who clown also have incorporated Santa or Mrs. Claus into their repertoire. This really is not surprising since clowns already have a connection with children, are no strangers to being in costume for hours on end and know how to connect with an audience of all ages. As entertainers, clowns know the value of bringing a character to life, not just throwing on a Santa suit yelling Ho Ho Ho. These clowns pour their hearts into the job embracing the character they portray. Two of the fellas from the clown group in my area have started becoming more Santa than clown as they reach their senior years. They grow out their beards and have them styled for the season. Now that’s dedication! As a matter of fact, our very own Tippy has been known to make appearances as the Jolly Old Elf on occasion. (see photos above) The people we are about to meet in this article take great pride in their appearance ensuring their audience has a truly magical experience. So let’s meet a few of these Clowns turned Claus for the Christmas season.
Santa Tippy has been a helping hand to many of his friends who regularly play Santa that need an occasional break. He is as endearing in Santa character as he is in the wonderful Tippy persona so many of his clients have come to love in his 30 years as an entertainer. Tippy is a multi-talented clown who juggles, performs skits, magic and is a natural comedian. He has even portrayed Santa at the Santa Land in one of Michigan’s largest Holiday light displays.
Mr. and Mrs. Claus:
The husband and wife team of Richard and Irina not only appear together as clowns but also as Mr. and Mrs. Claus. When in clown Chimples and Kookla entertain their audiences with a variety of activities such as face painting, magic, games and even stilt walking. Together they turn an event into a place of mirth, merriment and beautiful art. Years ago the couple thought they would like to be more into the Christmas Holiday entertainment scene which inspired them to attend Santa School. They fell in love with the idea of appearing as Mr. and Mrs. Claus and even got a spot on a local television network that featured students of the Santa School. Irina makes most of their costumes including those for Santa and his Mrs. One certainly can see the attention to detail as the two wardrobes compliment each other.
Irina looks at all the children waiting to visit Santa and Mrs. Claus; you can see she truly loves her role.
The event where I met Rich and Irina for the photo shoot was a Nursery that sells trees and Christmas decorations during the holiday season. The kids actually get to sit and chat with Santa and Mrs. Claus in a comfy setting surrounded by beautiful trees and Christmas music playing in the background.
As I watched families come to visit the couple, you could hear the children; parents and grandparents share bits of their life through the years and the wishes for the holiday season. Both Richard and Irina felt the best part of being Santa and Mrs. Claus was how they have seen the children grow over the years, some now bringing their own children to see them. Some of the appearances include handing out gifts, telling stories and posing for photos.
Meet Pebbles (Dana) who has been clowning for 10 years. Pebbles will entertain you with balloon sculptures, airbrush tattoos and full face painting all catering to her clients needs.
The journey into the world of Christmas entertainer was when a fellow clown/Santa had a need for a Mrs. Claus and invited her to join him on shows. Dana liked the idea of becoming Mrs. Claus and that it would broaden her horizons as an entertainer, she appears as Mrs. Jessica Claus. If you remember your Rankin and Bass TV specials, Jessica is the teacher who meets a young Kris Kringle in “Santa Claus is coming to town.” Jessica helped perform the silks to peppermint stick routine with my friend Jon for the welcoming of Santa at a local shopping center. She works with a few different Santa’s in a variety of settings from private parties to corporate events and has been doing so for the past 5 years.
As you can see from this candid shot, Dana truly has a joyful demeanor and an excellent chemistry with her Santa counterpart.
I asked Dana to share a favorite memory of playing Mrs. Claus and here it is.
I saw a little girl (age 5-6) timidly looking at the chair where Santa and I were sitting. I noticed she wasn’t making any moves to get closer – so I moved to her. I started chatting with her and invited her to come over and chat with Santa and I. She said, “I can see fine from here.” I then said, “Would you like me to see if Santa would like to take a stroll around the mall and then you and I could sit in the chair and talk about what you would like for Christmas?” Her eyes lit up and a big smiled appeared on her face, “Yes!!!” she said! She was, as we have found other children also to be, afraid of Santa but she was not afraid to sit with Mrs. Claus. So this sweet little girl and I had our pictures taken and I listened intently to what she wanted for Christmas so I could give Santa her list!
Yours truly has even taken on a role for the Holiday season. For years I had clients requesting me to play Santa but I never was sure if I fit the role of Santa. When discussing this with a few of my colleagues they felt my desire to create characters much different than the norm would need something special. The suggestion of Saint Nicholas was put on the table and that really struck a chord with me. This I could make work! Now we have some history involved and a means to create a program around the spirit of giving.
Father Christmas shares stories of Christmas traditions around the world, which has opened the door for many appearances at schools and public libraries. Photographs and slide presentations whisk the visitors on a trip through time and around the globe as they learn about the life of St. Nicholas.
Wearing a laurel wreath in lieu of a hat, walking staff and long coat creates the Olde World Santa look that coincides with the story line of my character. I also speak Scots tongue, which is my family heritage and gives a personal touch to my version of Father Christmas.
Big kids like Santa too:
I enjoy events where people have an opportunity to visit and have a photo taken with Father Christmas; it’s just such a great tradition for kids big and small.
One of my fondest memories was appearing at a Scottish-American club Christmas party, it was to be a complete surprise to the group, as they had never done the Santa visit in the past. Per tradition, the piper marches in playing his pipes, which marks the start of the festivities. This time I, or rather Father Christmas, was escorted in behind the piper. When we reached the front of the room and turned to face the group, I saw tears welling up in the eyes of many of the adult guests. One gentleman who was well into his 80’s said in a thick Scottish accent; “It’s Father Christmas… just like back home!” Let me tell you I had a hard time choking back the tears myself. Evoking such a fond memory in your audience is why most of us do what we do.
We hope you enjoyed this little visit into Santa’s workshop and all of the helpers it takes to make the magic come alive.