Christmas in July rarely gets as much attention as its December counterpart. But this year, more than 800 jolly Santas and Mrs. Clauses celebrated in style in Branson, Mo., at Discover Santa 2016. The largest-ever Santa convention brought together a crowd of St. Nicks from all over the country to share tricks of the trade and celebrate the importance of year-round Santa spirit.
With rosy complexions and long white beards galore, Christmas cheer was abundant.
But Santa was not always so jolly. In 1931,
Sundblom said of
Humanity embraced this Santa’s newfound humanity.
Coca-Cola’s Santa was no longer just an advertising technique. He was Santa. And with his crinkled eyes and ruddy cheeks, he embodied the joyous holiday spirit.
So significant was this reimagined symbol of Christmas that the Discover Santa convention concluded by celebrating the induction of Sundblom and
The Power of the Suit
When a Santa puts on his first red suit, he's hooked. Young people's wonder at seeing a mystical figure of their dreams gives Santas a rush that comes from little else. The suit signals that Santa is on the clock, and with that comes a promise – this Santa is the Santa and will behave with the expected cheer.
Santa Sam Simmons explains that when in his suit, “I cannot be a sad Santa, I cannot be a tired Santa. I always have to be a happy Santa and be on the mark.”
He continues, “Every minute that we wear these suits, we are trying so hard to make a child know that we are Santa, because there is Santa in all of us. Santa is the excitement, and the love, and the anticipation of something wonderful that’s going to happen.”
Every Santa can recall a story of that “something wonderful.” Santa Jim McGrath remembers meeting a child who strongly disliked physical contact – even from those in his family. Yet, upon seeing Santa, the child ran to embrace him. His mother cried, seeing her child respond to another so warmly.
“It wasn’t me.” Santa Jim believes. “I didn’t have some sparkle in my eye that I constantly practiced in the mirror. It was that power of the suit.”
It was more than a suit. It was a spirit.
Though the red suit clearly signals Santa is at work, the
“I can be walking through the grocery store and little ones will come up to me,” Santa Greg Winters says. “I may be in bib overalls, I may be in a pair of blue jeans, but they’ll know who I am and the fact that I can make them smile.”
Given children’s uncanny knack for knowing a Santa when they see one, Santa Paul Agrusti makes sure that he always leaves his home with style. “Everything I wear, not just at the convention, has to be what Santa would wear in public," he said. With a wardrobe of one-of-a-kind homemade Hawaiian shirts and
Considering the varied outfits of his fellow Santas, Santa Jim McGrath says, “Almost every single one is different or unique in some way. That’s a lot of what Americans are. We are one, but we are different. That might be a good thing for us to remember as a country.”
When he envisioned the
And that's the spirit of Christmas in July.