Santa Claus takes over, spreads cheer and goodies

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The age-old belief is that Santa Claus arrives silently in his sleigh drawn by reindeer at night on Christmas eve, armed with a list of "naughty" children and "nice" children to leave presents for the nice ones.

As Christmas festivities take over, there are many Santas in town making children merry and distributing goodies. The good thing is that they have no "good" or "bad" list.

Ove the last couple of days, Santas have been spreading smiles and cheer among children and adults alike at malls, markets and public events.

The Christmas celebrations at various public and private places in the city are arranged by event management companies, who leave nothing to chance and arrange everything, right from decorations and props. Those hired especially to play the role of Santa Claus possess excellent skills to attract people and are great entertainers. They are pleasant with children and have to match their energy.

"The people we select as Santa Claus are experienced. We select them on the basis of the place of event. We dress them up and send them there. They are experienced in terms of entertaining people," says Jinendra Doshi of Genesis Incorporate.

People who dress as Santa Claus during December, also dress up as Mickey Mouse at malls or clowns at children's parties and are paid anywhere between Rs 1,500 to Rs 3,500 a day.

Pratibha Nagar of Spirit Soar Events and Entertainments says that they term them the "clown people" and they have special skills.

"These people are young. They are willing to work on a daily basis. They could be people hired from outside, or our own employees. It all depends on the demand," she says.

But they have other jobs apart from just making people merry. A representative of Goral Consortium, a Pune-based event management company, says, "These people are excellent in people engagement and are often made to stand at public places or sent to places with an agenda of keeping people involved, or for distributing pamphlets, leaflets or fliers."

Mohammed Aarif is an experienced Santa. He has been working for various event firms across the city for the past eight years. "I work at 5-6 places as Santa in a season. It could be anything like a company, corporate function, mall, theatres or call centre, among others," he says. Apart from being Santa, he takes up odd jobs of playing magician or doing juggling acts to entertain people.

But being a Santa does not mean just wearing a Santa costume and standing. "We have shifts which could be between an hour-and-a-half to a full day," he says.

Aarif takes his job seriously. "In order to give it a professional look we order costumes from Mumbai. We look real and believable and our clients and the children are happy," he adds.

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