Bringing holiday cheer

Santa Claus

Photo by Rachel Bush

For roughly 700 years, Santa Claus and his elves have kept themselves busy at the North Pole, making holiday gifts for children worldwide. In preparation for Christmas, St. Nick makes his yearly rounds to take toy requests from children, and luckily for Butte County residents, he devotes a lot of time at his post at the Chico Mall. Every day through Christmas Eve, you can find the Big Elf himself at his colorful station in the mall’s east court. He’ll be there, posted on his shiny red chair, ready to spread holiday cheer (and a few candy canes, too).

How did you get into this business?

It’s a family business! My dad did it before. One year he got a cold and told me, “It’s time for you to put the suit on,” and I’ve been doing it ever since. He helps me occasionally, gives me direction with the reindeer. We have to train the reindeer, because it’s hard for them to maintain that high performance level.

What kinds of gifts are Butte County kids asking for this year?

Shopkins and Paw Patrol. Batman and Legos are always big ones, too! Dirt bikes, skateboards …

Do your elves have a favorite toy to make?

They really like making trains, but now with the popularity of electronics, they’re trying to make new things like ’bots. They like to make Transformers. They get a little carried away with it!

What’s the most difficult gift you’ve had to fit down a chimney?

When I first started in this job, about 700 years ago, rocking horses were the hardest. They had the curves and all these different angles. But recently, well, have you ever tried to get a wide-screen TV down a chimney? And they keep getting bigger! But my elves are working on it, they’re making a reduction machine that minimizes the items as they go down the chimney.

What’s your favorite treat that families leave out for you or your reindeer?

Milk and cookies. I’ve never met a cookie I didn’t like. There’s no such thing as a bad cookie. Occasionally someone’s taken a bite out of one, to taste test it, and I appreciate that. Carrots used to be the popular snack for the reindeer, but these days we’re going to oats with glitter. You just toss it in the front yard, and the glitter helps them locate the oats!

What’s the most unusual thing someone’s requested for Christmas?

This year I’ve had a little girl who said, “I don’t want anything; I just want a pair of shoes for my mom.” I thought that was very sweet.

Do you have any special messages you want to give to families this holiday season?

Just love each other and enjoy the moment!