“The shortage hasn’t impacted around here too much,” he said. “I have to turn down a dozen projects every year, that’s nothing new.”
Experiences with Santa are more in-person endeavors than last year’s snow globes and plexiglass, though not everyone is ready to return to Santa’s knee just yet. Outdoor retail giants Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops, which have locations in Centerville and West Chester, anticipate that more than 2 million children and families will take a photo with Santa at their stores. All stores are offering a “Contactless Claus” experience, and advance registration is required.
Virtual Santa visits, which became popular during the pandemic, aren’t going away either. DaGrossa booked the majority of his gigs virtually last year, and still has some video requests on his holiday schedule.
“It’s about what they’re comfortable with,” DaGrossa said. “It’s always been up to the parents to decide what’s best for their family. Some will say no laps, which is totally OK. Other kids will run up to me and give big hugs.”
DaGrossa, who is vaccinated, won’t be sitting in the big red chair wearing a mask, but will have one handy in case it’s needed.
Terry Burkert, a former Fairborn city councilman, has been Santa Claus for the city’s Hometown Holiday Festival for more than eight years. While he is also vaccinated, the pandemic isn’t the only thing that’s at the forefront of his mind.
“Sometimes some of the answers you get from the kids can make you teary eyed,” he said. “Some of the things you hear — getting their mom or dad a job, or getting them a new place to live. When you talk to the kids and you listen to what they ask for, the spirit of listening to them and communicating with them, it’s just a sense of reverence. It makes you feel closer to them and you see how the younger kids are growing up and what they have to deal with.”