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Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus. And you can Google him, if you’re not sure!

For most, the thought of Santa Claus conjures up ideations of childhood imagery, of kind elderly gentlemen in red suits and Rockwell-esque memories of simpler times. Perhaps a realistic and true likeness of the big guy himself, or occasionally a caricature of a cheap department store Santa with a frayed costume, in lieu of a belly and an elaborate, if not very fake looking beard. These themes still pervade the mystique of meeting Santa in person. Unbeknownst to most however, is the vast, established network of modern systems of business and commerce, sustaining these individuals by way of Santa-themed social networks, Santa conventions, and businesses that have been conceived and created with the sole purpose of connecting everyone’s favorite jolly old elf to the people and organizations in need of his services. Conglomerates if you will, specializing in the business of helping Santa keep all of these engagements organized and efficient so that he can focus on his true objective of spreading the holiday cheer.

To get a better insight into this secret holiday realm, we reached out to one of the larger companies doing this work throughout the United States, Santa Roster, with hundreds of Santas on the ready in nearly every state. Their function is coordinating countless events ranging from simple in-home visits to month-long engagements in support of major businesses and ventures. Over the years, SantaRoster.com has become a go-to resource for clients across the country who are in need of their own Kris Kringle. Darrell Wagner, founder of Santa Roster and it’s parent entity Gigroster.com, started his work in 1983 and has seen most every side of the Santa economy. “The gentlemen come into this business from all backgrounds and for all sorts of reasons,” explains Wagner, “They are looking for a positive and meaningful activity allowing them to contribute to such things as children’s charities and hospitals as well as to organizations like the Wounded Warriors. Some of them, while they might make a fairly substantial amount of income from the very seasonal work, contribute some or all of their proceeds to groups such as these. It is their commitment and passion, as some of them really don’t need the income as part of their retirement. Others do it as a purely for profit business venture, having been, one might say, endowed with a jolly girth and a long white beard. Many, though not all, are post-retirement and seeking a method to earn some extra income from the extended whiskers they’ve been sporting the last number of years. Still others are experienced and seasoned professionals who book their December dates 8 or more months in advance, invest in multiple styles of elaborate Santa costumes and robes, which can cost between $4000-8000, and sometimes even give their beard a good bleaching and their mustache a solid wax and curl if it doesn’t meet their standard of the picture-perfect Santa. These men are committed to the art of portraying Saint Nicholas all year around, attending conventions, classes and gatherings, all in preparation for a little over a month in the public eye.”

If the professional habits of modern day Santas may be a surprise, the technology behind the businesses that help them out is even more so. A company like Santa Roster has spent years perfecting their online database methodology to maximize efficiency and functionality. Wagner states that “In recent years, we have shifted to a completely online CRM system that keeps track of our listed performers, the clients who hire them, legal contracts that ensure accountability between client and Santa Claus, and even the ability to keep properly organized background checks and insurance requirements depending on the needs and expectations of the organization hiring Santa. This is a mostly invisible system that only the office staff sees. We have found that an interface like this really helps to bring Santa, and incidentally other related holiday characters such as Mrs. Claus, elves and characters like Rudolph, to more people throughout the country in the safest, most cohesive way possible.”

While the technological complexity and organization behind their local Santa Claus may come as a surprise to most people, it is simply the evolution of an already existing industry into the methodology and expectations of 21st century business practices. Indeed, when one is trying to satisfy parents potentially bringing a relative stranger into their homes or business owners who have insurance and liability concerns to attend to, the utility of a third party entity to handle all of this oversight begins to make real sense as a benefit to all involved parties. Like the visual humor of Santa riding a rocket powered sleigh, the technology behind today’s Santa Claus is one of growing modernity and high-speed interconnectedness, despite the long history and culture surrounding old Saint Nick. One might even say its like a classic workshop of elves with an IT department thrown in, finally answering the age-old question of how Santa visits so many homes in so little time.

To see more of what gets done at Santa Roster and some of their cheer from years past, check out this informative video: Santa Roster Video Sample

Riley Kennedy-Keys

Riley Kennedy-Keys

As an active musician in the Seattle area, Riley maintains an in-depth insight into the workings of the local music scene, as well as the ins and outs of what it means to work in the music industry.

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Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus. And you can Google him, if you’re not sure!
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