LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — A Santa convention drew dozens of Chris Kringles from around the country to Dauphin and Lancaster counties to learn the ins and outs of being Saint Nicholas.
It was a sea of red suits, white beards and Christmas cheer — pretty much what you would expect from a convention of Santas and Mrs. Clauses.
“We did have lessons in how to be a good Santa,” professional Santa Matthew Hopkins said. “Being a Santa is more than just showing up in a red suit.”
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Hopkins came to the convention from Rhode Island. He has spent 10 years traveling as Santa.
“My sister, who’s a professional Mrs. Claus, had me grow this wonderful, cute, fluffy little beard,” Hopkins said.
The real Santa can’t be everywhere at once, so he relies on these other Santas to spread the Christmas spirit around the world.
“I say I’m Santa junior, when I grow up I want to be Santa. Daddy lives at the North Pole,” professional Santa James Morrison.
In addition to Santa lessons, the Santas took a ride on an old fashioned steam engine, waving out the windows even singing the occasional Christmas carol.
“Oh the train’s magnificent,” Hopkins said.
They also visited the National Christmas Museum started over 20 years ago by Morrison.
“I wanted to…preserve my memories of Christmas,” Morrison said.
While Morrison no longer owns the museum, he still dresses up every year as Santa.
“They know me and trust me, and it’s incredible,” Morrison said.
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Morrison and Hopkins tell me, the Santa convention is fun.
“I’m always a child at heart,” Hopkins said.
However, the best part of their job is always the children.
“That Christmas child is not only in the little children, but it’s in every one of us,” Morrison said.
“The first time you’re on say a train or with kids and they pull on the beard and you go ‘I made it! They know I’m real!'” Hopkins said.