When Christmas rolled around again after his father’s death, Jack Sanderson realized he was not looking forward to the holiday. It seemed to Jack that Christmas had become a burden. He had only two choices: avoid it entirely or dive into the deepest part of the Christmas pool. In such a commercial culture, avoiding it seemed impossible, so Jack decided the best way to get through Christmas was to be in the eye of the Christmas Season storm. Jack would become Santa Claus and do as many of the things Santa is asked to do as possible.

For the documentary “Becoming Santa,” director Jeff Myers followed Jack on his journey to become Santa which entailed getting a custom Santa suit from Adele Saidy of ‘Adele’s of Hollywood,’ attending the ‘American Events Santa School’ taught by Susen Mesco in Denver and then Santa jobs. Along the way, Santa Jack rides in the 57th Annual Quincy Christmas Parade, rings a bell on a street corner in New York City for Volunteers of America and appears on the Susquehanna Railroad’s ‘Polar Express’ in Phillipsburg, New Jersey.

Wrapped around Jack’s journey into Christmas, like the red stripe around a candy cane, are interviews with professional Santas, Santa aficionados and historians who provide the fascinating little known history of Santa Claus in America and how the Civil War helped to shape the Christmas holiday as we know it today

THE MOST ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT “BECOMING SANTA”

From director Jeff Myers & Producer Jack Sanderson

Those Santa guys make a lot of money, don’t they?

Of the 50 Santa folks interviewed for “Becoming Santa” only one, Santa Tim Connahagn makes his entire living from Santa work. Santa Tim does print work, television commercials, films and tours the country teaching his “International Santa School”. The rest of the Santas count their seasonal work as ten percent or less of their annual income, but the great majority of them make no money at all or donate their earnings to charitable organizations for children.

Aren’t those guys creepy?

Many of the Santas are ex‐military, retired Policemen or Social Workers. When you get to know the guys behind the beards, you find big hearts and great examples of living what you believe. If you encounter a creepy Santa at a mall, chances are it’s because the mall put little to no effort into finding a professional Santa.

It’s just Santa, how hard can it be?

A professional Santa takes his position very seriously. Each Santa the filmmakers encountered was concerned with preserving the sanctity of the tradition and history of Saint Nicholas. Engaging and sustaining a child’s belief while representing a legend is not a responsibility for the faint of heart. Every Santa is aware that they are entering people’s photo collections and memories forever. Being a good Santa takes a lot of focus and preparation.

There really is a Santa School?

Jack attended the “American Events Santa School” in Denver, Colorado. The oldest school in America is the “Charles Howard Santa Claus School” in Midland Michigan, founded in 1937. They were fully booked when Jack contacted them. Some of the Santas interviewed in “Becoming Santa” attended “The Victor Neveda Santa School” in Calgary, Santa Tim Connahagn’s “International Santa School”, Susen Mesco’s “American Events Santa School” or the Charles Howard School.

Hey! What About Mrs. Claus?

The focus of “Becoming Santa” is on Santa Claus and his history. Mrs. Claus did not enter Old Nick’s life until about a hundred years ago, just after the elves. Most of the Santas interviewed are married and their wives do play Mrs. Claus. While she is a devoted wife and invaluable support to the Jolly Old Elf, she is content with a little less attention than her husband, because she’s got a lot to do backing up Christmas’ front man.
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