A shortage of Santa Claus in some parts of the country

Thanks to the COVID-19 vaccination and the lifting of some health restrictions, Canadians will see much more of Santa this year than in 2020.

In some areas there are not enough Santas to meet all requests for in-person visits.

© sdominick/getty images/istockphoto
In some areas there are not enough Santas to meet all requests for in-person visits.

But it depends on where they live in the country.

In some areas, there aren’t enough Santas to meet all requests for in-person visits, in part because not all of them are comfortable doing so yet. Elsewhere, many are twiddling their thumbs because the pandemic situation means they have few job opportunities.

Last year, Santa was allowed to take flight as an essential worker on the evening of December 24, but at ground level, the pandemic is still a problem for its representatives.

It’s crazySays Jeff Gilroy, manager for Just be Claus, a talent agency for Christmas characters based in Orillia, Ont. I had to turn down around 200 events.»

Back to work in shopping malls

Santa’s shopping mall tours are back in Ontario, British Columbia, and other provinces after last year’s cancellations.

Cadillac Fairview and Oxford Properties have both brought Santas back to their malls with COVID-19 prevention measures in place and appointments rather than queues.

Mina Caringi, the building manager at Scarborough Town Center in Oxford, Toronto, says customers started asking questions about the Santa Claus return in October.

They haven’t had their photos with Santa in a while, so they couldn’t wait to find him.»

With appointments, places are limited and parents must therefore plan ahead.

Pandemic and paperwork complicate business

Mr Gilroy’s business supplies Santa Claus to three shopping centers in Oxford, and employs around 25.

Their schedules are already full, but Mr. Gilroy still receives up to 30 calls a day for their services, so he now suggests other Christmas characters, like the Grinch.

You can do business with the Grumpy and have a bit of a shifty ChristmasHe said.

Santa's shopping mall visits are back in Ontario, British Columbia, and other provinces.

© Roby St-Gelais/Radio-Canada
Santa’s shopping mall visits are back in Ontario, British Columbia, and other provinces.

In Vancouver, Rozmin Watson of Hire a Santa says she never had so many requestsThan what she received earlier this month.

Although it employs up to 120 Santa Claus across the country, it is struggling to keep up with demand from Ontario and British Columbia following the lifting of some health restrictions.

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There is definitely a shortage.»

Ms Watson says some of her Santas will not be attending these events this year due to their age and fear of catching COVID-19, and others are awaiting criminal background checks.

Virtual tours are still popular

Some Santas limit or still completely avoid in-person visits, and instead favor virtual tours.

This is the case of Paul Hillier of Janetville, Ontario.

This popular 70-year-old Santa Claus normally fills his special events schedule, but he’s still only doing virtual tours in 2021.

Virtual tours can also be done internationally. Santa Claus Gee, of Sarnia, Ont., Has scheduled visits with children from Ireland, Russia, and Japan.

I have fun with time zonesHe said. He asks for 45 US dollars for a virtual session of about ten minutes, for which he has rented a small studio.

Unemployed Santa Claus in Alberta

In Alberta, rather than a Santa Claus shortage, it is Santa Claus who are facing a job shortage. So much so that one of them, who lives in Calgary, decided to go south.

Santa Claus Jeff would normally have about 30 events planned at this time of year, but he only has 10. This is still an increase from last year, where he did not. made no visits.

The other Santas he knows in Alberta face the same situation due to the high number of COVID-19 cases in the province.

The shopping centers have greatly reduced their demand, and there is no corporate visit», He laments.

Although he has to come back to Calgary for his few events, Santa Claus Jeff feels a bit lost in the desert, without the joy that children bring him.

Something is missing, it’s like, what’s going on? What am I setting here this holiday season?Asks the retired oil industry worker, who will soon be 70 years old.

I miss it a lot.»

Will the shortage last?

In Nova Scotia, COVID-19 continues to disrupt the Santa Claus market.

Some 80% of Nova Scotians are fully immunized, and gatherings without masks or social distancing are allowed for groups of up to 25 people indoors or 50 people outdoors.

Despite this, at the start of the season, demand was rather lowRemembers Father Christmas Floyd, one of the best known in the province.

Some Santas limit or still completely avoid in-person visits (archive).

© DAN GLEITER / Associated Press
Some Santas limit or still completely avoid in-person visits (archive).

While he’s back for his visits to a Halifax sports supply store, his corporate contracts are down 90% for the second year in a row.

He therefore supplements his schedule with visits to family celebrations, so much so that he now has to refuse contracts.

Whoever puts on his red suit for 40 years is worried about the next generation in his province.

I think there will be a shortage of Santa ClausHe said. I haven’t seen any new recruits yet.»

With information from James Dunne

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