SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Multiple agencies tasked with booking Santa Claus at events are having to frequently turn people away. They say there are not enough jolly fellows in white beards to go around.
"For every one Santa we have, there are about 20 people asking for a Santa to come to their home or office," said Mitch Allen, CEO of Hire Santa. "We have having to frequently turn people away."
The pandemic hit the Santa business hard. Allen and leaders at other agencies say a lot retired in 2020 to protect their health, and a lot have not returned. They also say most are elderly and not as tech savvy.
"We had a massive effort on the technology side to educate Santas on how to use things like Zoom and teams," said Ed Taylor, CEO of the World Wide Santa Claus Network. "But also, how do you set up an environment and a microphone and all that was good for these types of things? It was a bit of an issue."
Even in the South Bay, agencies are constantly having to turn people who request a Santa helper down.
"Everyone wants to have Santa come to their home or their office," said Emilia Casserly, owner of Rent a Santa in San Jose. "The phone keeps ringing, and the messages on the internet are constant. We have had to turn people away."
All of the agencies say the demand for in-person Santa appearances is similar, if not more, than what is was before the pandemic. Since there is not enough Santas to go around, many places cannot book a Santa. The efforts now turn towards hiring new ones.
"Really what we try to do is show people how fun this job is," Taylor said. "Most people who we hire are those who tried it one time and fell in love with it. Then we train them and really show them how to harness the positive energy of what being a Santa is all about."
However, they say it can take a few years to replenish the Santa supply. That is why they are reaching out to anyone with an interest in spreading some holiday joy.
"If you are the kind of person who is quick to smile and optimistic and friendly, you can be of service to the world," Taylor said.
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