'Santa's helper shortage': SJ's Christmas in the Park in need of volunteers for 2021 season

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Tickets for Christmas in the Park are on sale for the annual San Jose holiday tradition, but organizers are facing a shortage: a shortage of Santa's helpers.

For a variety of reasons, volunteers will not return as a Santa's helper this year, but there is still time to sign-up.

"Some have retired, they hang up their black boots and Santa hat," Christmas in the Park Executive Director Jason Minsky said. "Others, for safety reasons and their own personal reasons, say they aren't able to participate this year and hope to come back in future years. So, for us, we're short. We don't want somebody to come down and have Santa not be there."

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We all know the big guy is busy this time of year.

So for 40 years, visits with his helpers have been the centerpiece of the excitement at Christmas in the Park in San Jose.

With drive-thru and in-person events, the park will offer more volunteer shifts than ever before.

But after losing 10 volunteer Santa's helpers, organizers are making changes.



"It's up to us to make accommodations and see if we can attract a few more volunteers to help with the Santa program so that we can have a good variety of people that want to come visit and share their time to visit with our guests," Minsky said.

After a year of virtual and distanced visits in 2020, kids can see Santa's helpers in person again this year with health and safety in mind.

Visits with Santa's helpers will be outside and each volunteer chooses distanced or traditional visits based on their comfortability.

Christmas in the Park will share on their social media and website the preferred style of the helper that day so families can plan accordingly.

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ABC7 spoke with one of Santa's helpers at Christmas in the Park for nearly a decade.

He says loves the emotional impact Santa can have on a child.

With Santa helper orientation this weekend, he encourages others to volunteer and make a difference.

"This is the year for you to step up, the kids really need to have some Christmas interaction, a little sense of normalcy," he said. "We should do everything we can to bring things back to a real Christmas season the way we've seen in the past."

The orientation on Saturday is essentially the Santa's helper interview process for Christmas in the Park.

Minsky says if people cannot attend this weekend, there are still ways to do the orientation.

For information on how to volunteer to be a Santa's helper, visit their website here.

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