October 1, 2022

There is a shortage of Santa Clauses a few weeks before Christmas – Houston Public Media

Meg Crady, left, and her husband Charlie Crady have played Mrs. and Mr. Claus since 1987.

Santa Clauses are rare this year.

HireSanta, a Texas-based company that books Santa Claus actors for appearances across the country, is seeing fewer Santas available to spread holiday cheer, according to CEO Mich Allen.

There’s been a 121% increase in demand for cheerful performers this year – but there are 10% fewer St. Nicks during the pandemic.

Allen attributed this drop in supply to artists at high risk for COVID-19: Artists tend to be older and live with obesity, which increases the risk of serious illness.

“There are still Santas who are not comfortable hanging out with people because they are more likely to test negative if they get COVID,” Allen said.

Allen, who is also HireSanta’s “head elf,” says some of his contractors have died of COVID.

“More than 130 people have died this year alone, and we think that’s way more than that,” Allen said. “And that doesn’t include the ones we lost last year.”

Santa Claus rides a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade.
Santa Claus rides a float during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade on Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021 in New York City.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unvaccinated older adults are more likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19. People 65 and older who received both doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines showed a 94% reduced risk of COVID-19-related hospitalization.

Not all Kris Kringle are absent from the season. Charlie Crady and his wife Meg, with LoneStarSantas.org, have played Santa and Mrs. Claus since 1987.

Business hasn’t slowed down for them.

“Last year we thought we were going to have a slow year because of COVID and it turned out to be our best year,” Charlie Crady said. “People were so fed up.”

He mentioned that the couple attended 45 events last year. This year they will have 40 and in recent weeks they have turned down up to 15 opportunities.

But while business is steady for the couple, Crady said he knows a number of artists who have since died of COVID.

“Over the past two years, I would say, at least four or five Santas that I know of in the group and several Mrs. Clauses have passed away,” Crady said. “And that bothers me. But doing Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus for Meg and me is a ministry.”

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