Santa Claus is coming to town! No, wait — he's already here, at Radio City! Credit: MSG Entertainment
The countdown to Christmas is officially on, and nobody is more excited than Santa Claus himself. The big man in red is exceptionally busy around this time of year, what with toy-making, list-checking and a stint at Radio City Music Hall’s annual “Christmas Spectacular” — but he did find a few minutes to chat with us.
Greetings, Santa! We’re so grateful to speak with you, considering how hectic your schedule must be right now.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And it is busy, but it is always a delight to talk to you and it is always a delight to do the show.
How do you manage your time?
That’s one of the most difficult things about the job — that it does take a lot of time and energy, focus, concentration, meditation and prayers.
Of course — everyone should have a little meditation. It’s the moments of thinking of nothing that so many wonderful joyous things come. It’s kind of a gift that I give to myself as Santa, that I’m able to take a moment and turn the lights down and light my magical candle and think about how wonderful it is to be at Radio City Music Hall doing the "Christmas Spectacular" for 27 years, with children and adults who bring me joy by showing me that they are joyful for the show. They enjoy it and they have fun, and they relive those moments when they were a child, because for a moment while they’re here at the show, they believe.
We bet Mrs. Claus loves to see you in such a relaxed state.
Even at this time of year, Mrs. Claus and the elves are extremely busy. They’re keeping up with me, being sure that I have my food, my time, and keeping the list on who’s naughty and nice.
Is there one toy that you’re getting a lot of requests for this year?
No. There used to be one toy that everyone wants, but now so much technology has come into the world that everyone wants a smartphone or a computer or a video machine or a new television. One of the most wonderful little girls in the world came to see me the other day, and all she wanted was a yo-yo. That is the magic of Christmas — the simplicity. And when she gets the yo-yo she’ll give it away to a child who really wants a yo-yo who didn’t get one. And that is the true magic of Christmas: It’s not what you get, it’s what you give. And it doesn’t have to be wrapped in a package with a fancy bow. It can be a simple as a yo-yo. … Sometimes the greatest gift is the gift of love.
This is making our hearts sing. Say, what kinds of cookies should we leave out for you on Christmas Eve?
I’m trying to lean toward oatmeal and raisin — it’s a little healthier for me. I’m trying to watch my weight. Otherwise, how could I ever get down all those chimneys? And I would suggest carrots for the reindeer, although they are leaning heavily toward candy corn. [And] skim milk all the way! (Laughs)
Should we leave you some eggnog too?
I’ll be driving so I’ll have to pass.
You've likely got lots of people to visit. How many letters do you think you’ll receive this year?
Millions. I’m already getting letters from children who bring them to Radio City and tell me what they want. And some of the most wonderful letters include the whole family — my brother wants this, my mom, my dad [want this]. Even if you’re on the naughty list, you have a little bit of time left.
So how can someone on the naughty list end up on the nice list?
By being nice. If you’re a child, by being respectful and obedient; if you’re an adult by helping someone, by being nice. It’s very important.
We want to know how you spend your time when you’re not working. For example, how do you spend your summers?
I enjoy fishing. We have some wonderful fishing up in the North Pole toward southern Alaska.
And what do you do the day after Christmas?
I do get a break, but I’ll be here at Radio City because we’ll be running until Dec. 30.
And then what will you do?
Well I’ll go back to the North Pole, collect the elves and the reindeer and we’ll settle down for a nice, long winter’s nap. [Then we start working again] as soon as I wake up. When you love what you do, you never have to worry about working because it’s a joy. We start to think about the toys, we go for walks in the pines in the woods in the snow, we get out the bobsleds. We have all kinds of sleighs. Usually Rudolph will go with us. Rudolph stays at the North Pole during the Christmas season because, well, to be honest with you, Rudolph was bullied by the other reindeer because he had a red nose. And once the other reindeer realized that being different is being special and singular and individual, like a snowflake, now, Rudolph stays at the North Pole and teaches the reindeer. That’s a little known fact about Rudolph.
What’s your favorite Christmas movie?
I love all the Christmas movies, but the best Christmas movie has not been done yet. There are Christmas movies to be made yet that we don’t even know about, and those are my favorites too. That could be one of the greatest gifts of all.