Ho ho oh no! There's a shortage of Santas this holiday season

12/3/2021 3:31:00 AM

Demand for appearances by Santa Claus has skyrocketed this holiday season while the number of available Santas has gone down -- driven partly by safety fears during the pandemic.

Santa Claus: There's A Shortage Of St. Nicks This Christmas Season - Cnn

Demand for appearances by Santa Claus at parties, parades and other events has skyrocketed this holiday season while the number of trained and available Santas has gone down — yet another disruption in the supply chain caused by the pandemic.

Demand for appearances by Santa Claus has skyrocketed this holiday season while the number of available Santas has gone down -- driven partly by safety fears during the pandemic.

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This...has nothing to do with the supply chain issue.

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(CNN)It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.according to a report from the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association, a trade group.reported, citing people familiar with the matter.Share this article on Tumblr Amid a production rise fueled by Hollywood’s pivot to streaming, the need to lock in filming space is becoming more critical — and a soundstage boom is overtaking the Southland, with competition for space and clients.

But you might not see jolly old St. Nick at as many holiday gatherings this year. Democratic Gov. Demand for appearances by Santa Claus at parties, parades and other events has skyrocketed this holiday season while the number of trained and available Santas has gone down -- yet another disruption in the supply chain caused by the pandemic. The plan was to ramp up production to make up for the shortfall in 2022, when component supply is expected to improve, Bloomberg reported.Companies that provide Santas for holiday events are scrambling to meet the demand, says Mitch Allen, founder and head elf at Hire Santa, a company based in Fort Worth, Texas, which helps clients book Santas across the country. His office declined to comment on the Plains project, noting it was under review by government agencies. Allen said his company has 10% fewer Santa Clauses available this year while requests for Santas have more than doubled when compared to pre-pandemic levels.

"There's a huge demand," Allen said. California is known as a birthplace of the modern environmental movement, and a watershed event was a massive 1969 spill off the coast of Santa Barbara. He told analysts then that supply chain issues had already cost Apple $6 billion in sales in the company's fiscal fourth-quarter ending September 25."We've been sold out on weekends for over a month, which is unusual. Usually, we get sold out after Thanksgiving. The state’s decision on the project “is an opportunity for California to walk the talk” on weaning itself from oil, she said." Mitch Allen of Hire Santa says his company has seen a surge in demand for Santas' services this year. Subscribe to push notifications An icon in the shape of a lightning bolt. Allen attributes the surge in demand to event planners who are weary of the lingering pandemic and want to brighten holiday festivities to make up for lost time. Federal inspectors found Plains operators working from a Texas control room more than 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometers) away had turned off an alarm that would have signaled a leak and, unaware a spill occurred, restarted the hemorrhaging line after it shut down.

Read MoreThe shortage may not be immediately apparent at shopping malls because a lot of malls booked Santas in the first quarter of the year, Allen said. But some retailers' crop of Santas are stretched thin, meaning they must ask Santas to work longer shifts or limit the hours they are available to the public, he said. Plains later was fined over $3 million.Enrollment at Santa schools is down Susen Mesco, who's operated a professional Santa school in Denver for nearly four decades and dons a Mrs. Claus suit herself, says she's not getting much sleep due to the Santa shortage. A key step in the review of the proposed pipeline — a complex environmental study conducted by Santa Barbara County — is expected by spring."The bookings are overwhelming this year.

I'm getting calls for a Santa about every eight minutes," she said. It largely would snake along the existing route."But it's not all bad news. It also means that people are emerging from the other side of the pandemic. Three ExxonMobil platforms that relied on the line have been closed since the spill. Now that we've all had two years to figure out and adjust to the pandemic, more people want to be together." Santa Claus at Macy's Santaland in New York City on November 30, 2021. In a divided vote in early November, the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission urged county supervisors to deny the company’s proposal.

Some companies have come up with creative ways to make sure Santa is socially distanced during the pandemic. Mesco attributed the shortages to several factors. King said in a statement. Santa schools nationwide saw lower enrollments in 2020 and 2021 due to coronavirus fears, which translated to a smaller field of qualified Santas, she said. Her school alone lost 120 potential Santa trainees.” Also at issue: The existing line and its replacement would run through numerous areas with earthquake risks."Nobody wanted to travel (for the classes) or to be in a conference setting," she said.

Her Santas take 180 hours of lessons in a wide range of areas, ranging from sign language and child development to how to curl their beards. “Portions of the pipeline could be subject to intense seismic shaking, and some areas could experience ground rupture in the event of a significant earthquake,” the study found, recommending safety steps that include covering the line with protective foam. They also are briefed on the best answers to common questions kids ask. Mesco said the pandemic also led many long-time Santas to hang up their red coats. He noted Plains could have sought to repair the existing pipeline but instead wants a new line built to modern safety standards."Some of them just said, 'I'll retire now,'"she said."I've had 15 Santas drop off their Santa suit and say, 'Find a good home for it. With a continuing demand for oil, even as the state transitions away from fossil fuels, “I think that we should find a way to safely deliver it in an environmentally friendly .

'"Some other Santas have decided it's a good time to take a break, said Tim Connaghan, nicknamed the"National Santa," who appears in major holiday parades and is a chief Santa for the Marines' Toys for Tots campaign. Connaghan also owns a Santa booking agency; he said he's surveyed his fellow Santas and found that 18% are taking 2021 off.. Tim Connaghan has been working as a Santa for more than 50 years. He says his booking agency requires Santas to have proof of vaccination against Covid-19.” AP NEWS. It's been a tragic year for Santas The average working Santa is in his mid-60s and weighs 248 pounds, Connaghan said, making them at high risk of coronavirus infections.

More than 335 Santas have died this year from coronavirus and other ailments, according to Allen of Hire Santa. "Those are the ones we know about. And there's more last year," he said, adding that not all the deaths have been related to Covid-19. Mesco said her booking agency has lost more than 50 Santas to the pandemic.Jeev Anand, 5, is photographed by his mom, Jasmeen, while posing next to Santa Claus in a protective setting in December 2020 at the Westfield Century City shopping mall in Los Angeles.

Being Santa in a pandemic comes with a lot of added responsibility. Connaghan said his booking agency requires Santas to have proof of vaccination, and he himself takes a coronavirus rapid test twice a week. "We have to be safe," he said."I have hundreds of Santas doing self tests."Even so, some Santas are sitting out the pandemic because they're fearful of being exposed to hundreds of potentially germy children.

Connaghan said almost all the Santas he surveyed said that children sneeze or cough on them daily, making the extra safety measures crucial. Over the past year some mall Santas have been forced to wave at children from behind plexiglass. Others have greeted children via live video calls.Racially diverse Santas are in even shorter supplyThe Saint Nick shortage (Santa Pause?) is even more acute for Santas of color. The Santa Claus industry is gradually becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, and more Santas are learning American Sign Language, but it's still not enough, Allen said.

"We still have shortages when it comes to diversity," he said."For every 500 White Santas, we have one Black Santa."Dion Sinclair, also known as Santa Dee or"The Real Black Santa." Last month Old Navy partnered with Connaghan, along with Dion Sinclair, known as Santa Dee or"The Real Black Santa," and others to launch a 30-minute online training program for people who want to serve as Santas. The program encourages participants from all backgrounds, ethnicities and cultural heritages.

"Diversity is a current challenge in the Santa industry," Old Navy said in a statement."Less than 5% of all professional Santas in the US identify as people of color, while almost half of children under the age of 15 in the US identify as nonwhite."A company spokesperson said the program has trained"hundreds of inclusive Santas thus far," but did not provide a specific number. But next year is looking betterThe owners of Santa booking agencies have advice for any event planner who is struggling to find a Santa this holiday season. They urge flexibility: Except for Christmas week, Santas are easier to book during the week than on weekends.

And in a pinch virtual Santas are more easily available than real-world ones. Mesco said she's encouraging people this year to schedule parties around Santa's availability. "People are getting hotels and caterers, and then saying let's get a Santa," she said."That might not work."Santa Claus arrives at a holiday event at HarborWalk in Boston on November 21, 2021.

Some companies are already booking Santas for next year's holiday season. She also urged people to be open to having Santa make visits all the way up until the New Year. "I don't consider it a shortage for Santas. It's more of an overwhelming demand, because people are hopeful," she said."They want their Christmas back, they want their festivities.

It's a beautiful testament to the American spirit." And things are looking better for 2022. The Santa shortage has led to a rush of big retailers and other clients already booking for next year's Christmas, Allen said. And potential Santas are once again enrolling in Santa schools for next year. Mesco said Wednesday that 30 people had signed up in the past few days.

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