(WKBN) – Reports say Santa’s helpers may be in short supply this year, and at least one local Santa and Mrs. Claus plan to sit this year out.
HireSanta.com reported there are about 15% fewer Santas this year — but the demand is 120% over pre-pandemic levels.
“Most of our customers, if you’ll call them that, are preschoolers and they haven’t been able to get vaccinated yet, so we have to be careful. Some of our elves are hundreds of years old, so we can’t take a chance on infecting them,” said Robin Stears.
Chuck Wilcox and Robin Stears, who also go by the Kringles, say they’re very sad to have to sit this year out, but they know it’s for the best.
“We did get vaccinated ourselves but it’s always a chance that someone would give it to us and we’d give it to another child. That would break our hearts,” Wilcox said.
Wilcox has been playing Santa for 40 years and says it’s a major part of his life.
Still, some communities are not affected by the shortage, like Sharpsville, Pennsylvania.
“We have exactly 14 Santas, and separately, 14 helpers traversing 14 different routes,” said Ralph Mehler, head of the Santa Claus Committee in Sharpsville.
Every year, the Sharpsville Service Club organizes their Christmas program that sends Santa Claus to every home to see the kids before Christmas. They’ve been doing it for 73 years.
“People from 50 years ago say, ‘Oh, this brings back memories,’” Mehler said.
Mehler says they didn’t have any issues finding enough volunteers to play Santa and his helpers or organizing the event. They will also be taking safety precautions when Santa and his helpers go out.
The Southern Park Mall and the Eastwood Mall both have Santa booked to make appearances already, and so do several other events in the area.