News, Jazz, NPR
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Texas-based nonprofit lends a hand to the real Santa Claus

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

OK. If you're one of many Americans who quit their job during the pandemic searching for something more meaningful, here's a career suggestion from a man who does about one month of work every year and has a nice uniform.

JIM FLETCHER: I am Santa Jim Fletcher. I've been Santa for 16 years.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Jim Fletcher is the 81-year-old founder of Lone Star Santas. It's a Texas-based nonprofit that lends a hand to the real Santa Claus while he's up in the North Pole. Fletcher has some tips to offer potential Santas. For starters, be prepared for anything.

FLETCHER: This little girl last night wanted to know if some way I could get her Elf on the Shelf pregnant 'cause she wanted a baby elf (laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HEY! SANTA CLAUS")

THE MOONGLOWS: (Singing) Well, Santa Claus, bring my baby back. Bring my baby back...

INSKEEP: Even though Santa only goes into the office during the holidays, Fletcher considers it a year-round occupation.

FLETCHER: I don't leave the house without wearing something red. Go into a restaurant to eat and if there's kids there or adults - adults turn into kids when they see Santa Claus.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CHRISTMAS IN HOLLIS")

RUN-DMC: (Rapping) ...Rice and stuffing, macaroni and cheese. And Santa put gifts under Christmas trees.

INSKEEP: A big part of the job is to create lasting memories.

FLETCHER: I'd say 85% of 2-year-olds are scared to death of Santa. Crying kids' pictures - that's the one that stays up on the refrigerator for ages. Fifteen years from now, they show - the parents show that picture to the boyfriends or girlfriends that come in (laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SANTA TELL ME")

ARIANA GRANDE: (Singing) Santa, tell me if you're really there. Don't make me fall in love again if he won't be here...

MARTIN: The pandemic was tough on Fletcher because Santas couldn't be close to kids. They could only talk through plexiglass or have virtual visits. But he says things are a little more normal this year, and demand to see the big guy is up.

FLETCHER: People want Santa Claus. We are a symbol of love, hope and joy. I look at doing what we do as kind of a ministry unto its own. And if you're on this side of the beard and you can see the reaction of people, it's amazing.

MARTIN: One more perk of the job - Santa drives a really cool company vehicle.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SANTA BABY")

EARTHA KITT: (Singing) Santa baby, a '54 convertible, too... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

WUSF 89.7 depends on donors for the funding it takes to provide you the most trusted source of news and information here in town, across our state, and around the world. Support WUSF now by giving monthly, or make a one-time donation online.