Christmas is just days away and Santa Claus is preparing for one of the world’s warmest work shifts… a meet and greet at Lifestyle Centre this December. Santa will be stationed with his face painting elves outside Lifestyle SUPERSPAR from 10am to 2pm daily until Christmas Eve.
We caught up with Ballito’s Santa, a.k.a Terry Buchanan, (dressed in disguise) at #TheMarket to chat about his Santa suit, posing for pictures with kids and listening to their Christmas dreams…
Q: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to sit down with us Santa, tell us about yourself?
A: I am an 81-year-old family man, husband of Viv, dad of two, grandfather to four grandchildren and a retired Advertising Manager. I spend my free time, when not at the North Pole, making toys, refurbishing furniture and doing a bit of woodwork.
Q: How long have you been visiting Lifestyle Centre as Santa for?
A: This year will be my eleventh year. I absolutely love interacting with kids and take great satisfaction chatting with them and hearing all the interesting things they have to say.
Q: What do you love most about being Santa?
A: It’s the best time of the year! There’s a cheer in the air and I enjoy watching people walk by. It isn’t only about the kids, I also like chatting to the elderly ladies and men. I wave and take pride in cheering people up and add a bit of a cheerful spirit when they walk by.
Q: And your least favourite?
A: The heat! My suit is heavy and warm! Last year I lost three kilos over the week I visited Lifestyle Centre.
Q: What are some of the funniest moments you have had sitting in Santa’s chair?
A: There have been too many moments over the years. The questions I get asked by the kids are my favourite. One child even left their dummy with me. They all want to know why my beard is long and to tell them about my reindeer. Oh, they all want to know about Rudolph!
Q: What do kids ask for when they are on your lap?
A: Some kids ask for lots of things while others mention just a few. Over the years I have heard it all! I always like to encourage parents to write me a little note when visiting with their kids. Write things like the child’s name, where they live and what king of things they like. Their faces light up when I call them by name to come and sit on my lap. The belief is magical!
Q: How do you transform into Santa when you get into your Santa suit?
A: I have a good suit! It takes me a good 10 minutes to get into it. I strap on a cushioned tummy, shiny shoes and a full groomed beard. I also have done a lot of research to get into character. I know all the reindeers’ names and all about the elves and workings of the North Pole.
Q: How will you be spending Christmas this year?
A: While my daughter and her family are overseas, it will be our first Christmas we won’t be celebrating together but my son and his family will be enjoying a full traditional Christmas lunch at our house. Mrs Claus is an incredible cook! We are lucky to have her!
Q: What are you hoping for this Christmas?
A: Good wishes
Q: Now tell me Santa, how do you and your reindeer get to so many houses in just one night?
Well you know we have Dasher and Blitzen. They are the fastest reindeer, so they get us around very quickly! The elves also help. They have small sleighs that you can’t see. We work as a team and know exactly which houses have a chimney and which ones we will need to use our magic key for in order to open their front doors.
Q: How many houses do you go to?
Q: So, you go down the chimney… have you ever been scorched by someone who left their fireplace burning?
A: Oh yes! I have burnt a hole in my pants one too many times! I have also got stuck in a few narrow chimneys…
Q: Is Rudolph really your favourite reindeer?
A: Rudolph is the leader of the pack and he shows us the way! I always like to encourage the kids to leave something for the reindeer. They work so hard and really need it. But please don’t leave me a beer… I can’t drink and drive! Oh, and make sure you sleep through the night!
Q: When the moms and dads were growing up, they wrote letters. Do kids today email and text you?
A: Ha ha ha, I don’t have an email address! I have a good old-fashioned post box! I even bring it along with me to Lifestyle Centre in case any of the kids want to post their letters there.
Meet Santa and his Elves every day between 10am and 2pm until 24th December. You’ll find him outside Lifestyle SUPERSPAR. Take a selfie or two and use the hashtag #ChristmasTheBallitoWay to share them with us.