INDIANAPOLIS — It’s officially Christmas season and you’re sure to see more of the jolly old fellow around.
But HireSanta.com and some local Indy Santas said they are facing a rise in demand with a lack those willing to rock the beard and belly, meaning Santa is busy this year.
”Weekends from Friday night all the way to Sunday night, I’ve got time to go home and go to bed and get up and start over again,” said Larry Shaw.
Shaw has been one of Santa Claus’ helpers for 44 years now. He is also known as the Circle City Santa.
Shaw said his schedule has been practically full for the last two or three months. Each weekend has multiple Santa events each day and most weekdays have at least one event.
”I’ve got a few spots here and there I can fit people in,” Shaw said.
Another local Santa named Craig Stone said he’s 50-75% busier than last year.
The national Santa scene is seeing a similar trend, a big demand for the big guy with fewer Kris Kringles to go around.
”The demand has never been greater, it is up 30% over last year and last year was a record year,” said Mitch Allen, the founder and Head Elf at HireSanta.com.
Allen said his company has also seen more need for diverse Santas, too.
”There has been a huge increase in demand for Black Santas, Hispanic Santas, even ASL, or American Sign Language Santas, and Mrs. Clauses,” Allen said.
Allen said one of the reasons for the increase in demand is people looking to get back to tradition and make up for lost time during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the workforce just isn’t there.
”For every Santa that reaches out to us, there are 20 open positions that we have,” Allen said.
Allen said, according to their numbers, there are more than 2,250 jobs for Santa across the industry.
Shaw has seen Santas here in central Indiana hang up the red coat, as well. Mainly from concerns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
”They’re getting older and they don’t want to take the risk,” Shaw said.
Allen has seen a similar trend.
”Over the last three years, unfortunately, we lost a great number of Santas due to COVID,” Allen said. “Whether that be health conditions or deciding to hang up the red coat.”
But, Shaw said if your kiddos still need to tell St. Nick what they want under the tree, there will be plenty of chances.
”There are still a lot of places where there are public appearances, a lot of your malls are still doing it,” Shaw said.
With less than a month till Christmas, chances are running out to book Santa for a party or private event.
”If you’re hunting for a Santa on a weekend it might be too late this year, but we’re already having people who are wanting to book Santa for 2023,” Allen said.
Both Allen and Shaw said you might still be able to find some availability during the weekdays, though.