Santa: Who's the Man in that Red Suit Really?
By: CJ Cassidy
Before you check out this story - we have a quick warning to parents --- we do have a Santa spoiler here... so you may want to make sure your kids aren't around.
Many people try to make sure Santa makes an appearance in their childrens' lives at Christmas, but for some, a trip to see Santa at the mall is enough.
We all expect to see jolly old Saint Nick come Christmas time, and the little ones can't get enough of him.
"She went right to him got up in his lap, and he asked her some questions, and she answered and smiled a lot," said Toni Brown of Campbell. She brought her granddaughter to the mall to get her picture taken with Santa.
But what do we really know about Father Christmas these days, especially when we run into him at the mall?
Turns out the St. Nick on duty graduated from a Santa School before he could step into his boots.
In fact, he's just one of more than a thousand mall Santas Cherry Hill Photo Enterprises hires across the United States.
While Santa worked his magic with the kids who showed up to talk to him, we caught up with an off-duty Santa who's had his gig volunteering for 14 years.
"What does it take to make a good Santa? I guess the first thing would be the beard. Mine is authentic. I always let it grow out long for Christmas - that - a good smile and a good ho ho," Roy Rhodes of Cape Girardeau explained.
But parents and grandparents say these days they want to make sure the man in the red suit's not naughty, just nice.
"It's important because of things that go on in this world. There's no telling what kind of background they have, and you don't want children exposed to that," Brown said.
"There could be a bad santa, I guess," Rhodes added.
Cherry Hill Photo managers say all Santas must pass background checks before they can pass candy to the kids, and that's a relief to everyone who wants to keep the magic of Christmas and Santa alive.
"It makes them dream, and have hopes of stuff they wouldn't ordinarily get if it wasn't for Santa," Brown said.
Santa School also includes classes on dressing up and make-up and learning all the names of the reindeer.