A Chat with Santa Tom
We work with a lot of fascinating people – our clients are widely varied and have interesting hobbies and work. One of these is Santa Tom, who has been working as a Santa for 32 years. We asked him a few questions about what it’s like to be Santa.
How long have you been portraying Santa?
I’ve been an adult Santa for 32 years, took over the role from my late father and uncle.
How did you first become interested in portraying Santa?
I have always been interested in Santa Claus, from the time I was a small boy. My late father and uncle portrayed Santa when I was a child. I sort of took over the role. I first had made up a Santa suit at age 5. Later my mother purchased me a flannel child’s Santa suit – so it has been an interest since I was a child. Being a thin fellow and young at the time I searched out better costumes, padding and beard sets. Finally hearing of Heather Fleming (founder of Custom Wig Company), I got my first laced edge set. Prior to that I used Yak sets and cut them shorter and removed the wired mustache.
What is your favorite part of being Santa?
I have great memories of being visited by Santa (Uncle Phil) at home, and of family gatherings as a child, as well as seeing Santa at Remick’s department store each year. I always strive to leave those I see with a great Santa memory. The joy I bring in the persona of Santa, to both young and old, is something that is priceless.
What do you find most challenging about the role of Santa?
The heat of the suit with the padding is sometimes tough, as is driving from visit to visit in New England weather. As I have become more known it is often difficult to have to turn folks down as so many request the same weekend times.
How long does it generally take you to get ready to go out as Santa? Do you have different suits or hair goods or accessories for different occasions?
It takes 45 minutes to do make up and glue the beard, wig eyebrows, and mustache, and then put on the suit. I have six suits, three are custom made. I also have a St. Nicholas outfit with the bishop’s miter.
Tell us your favorite story about being Santa
On Christmas Eve a few years ago after completing many home visits, we stopped at a CVS drug store which was the only place open that late. My wife and helper went in and I followed in full costume.The folks working were all excited for the impromptu visit. Into the store came an elderly woman with a three year old girl and a teenager, who turned out to be the child’s mother. The little girl was so excited. From the looks of the folks they appeared to be on hard times. The store manager got a camera and took photos of me with the little girl and printed them for them. I had stuffed animals in the car so my wife went out and got one for the little girl. It may have been the only thing she got from Santa that year. The smile of the grandmother and on the young mother’s face, as well as that little girl I will never forget. Truly a Santa moment.
Have you attended any Santa schools, conferences, or reunions lately?
I have attended the St Nicholas Institute, and the International University of Santa Claus where I earned my Bachelor of Santa Claus and Master of Santa Claus. I’m a member of the Knights of St. Nicholas. I also attended the Chas. W. Howard Conference in Albion, NY. Yearly, I attend the Northeast Santa Gathering on Cape Cod, and each year for the past several years I have represented Custom Wig Company in the vendor area.
Are you affiliated with any organizations, foundations, or charities?
I am a member of the Knights of Columbus and the St. Vincent DePaul Society. Some of our donations go to Weymouth Youth and Family Service, Toys for Tots, and Globe Santa. All are made directly by the clients, nothing goes to me. In 2015, I was knighted in the Knights of St. Nicholas and I am a Santa Claus Oath Medal of Honor Recipient. In addition, I am also a manager of the Mystic Order of Traditional Santas (MOTS) a group of Santa’s who uphold the traditional Santa appearance using good suits and realistic hair goods.
Most importantly, what’s your favorite kind of cookie?
Santa Tom appears as Santa in the East Weymouth, MA area – visit his website here. Since Santa Tom asks for donations to local charities in lieu of payment for his appearances, we’d like to encourage you to consider him if you are looking for a Santa for your holiday events.