Calling all would-be Illawarra Santas

Santa Colin Robb. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Santa Colin Robb. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

After three years listening to the Christmas wish-lists of dozens of children, Albion Park "Santa" Colin Robb thought he had heard every request.

But when a little girl asked for a set of fangs under her Christmas tree, Mr Robb had a hard time keeping a straight face.

"She told me she wanted fangs so she could fit in with the cast of [movie] Twilight," he said.

"It was absolutely hilarious - not quite the iPad or dolls that I'm used to."

Shopping centre Santas, like Mr Robb, are in short supply in the Illawarra, prompting the call for jolly men to help fill the famous red suit over the festive season.

While whacking on a grey beard and yelling "ho ho ho" might seem like an easy task, Mr Robb said playing Mr Claus had its challenges.

"It's a very physically demanding job," he said. "Once you're in the suit and on set, you're covered from head to foot - all people can see is your eyes, your nose and your cheeks so you've got to create your persona from that.

"You've got to be a bright, bubbly, jovial person who really enjoys having people around them."

The annual Santa search kicks off in July as potential candidates are interviewed and put through the necessary checks.

Santa training starts in September before successful applicants don their Christmas gear in November. Mr Robb said training was intense and covered everything from Christmas history to dealing with tricky children.

"We learn how to wear the uniform, how to relate to children and parents, even how to pick up children correctly - in this day and age you can't be too careful," he said.

"I like to do my own research too every year on popular toys; it helps to know a little bit."

People interested in applying to play Santa should contact Margaret Wolff on 0412 755 181.

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