You better watch out, you better not cry Santa Claus is coming to town.
Or as is often the case, the jolly old elf gets some help, such as local Santa Brian Wood, to help ease the workload in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
“I do it for the enjoyment,” said Wood.
Wood has been dressing up as Santa to bring smiles to local kid’s faces for about seven years, although he got his start bringing Christmas cheer much earlier than that.
When he first moved to Chestermere in 1992, the fire department would bring Santa throughout the whole town to wish residents Merry Christmas on Christmas Eve.
After witnessing it on his first Christmas in town, Wood offered to be Santa the next year.
“I approached the fire department and I said hey I really liked what you did, is there a chance I could help you out with it and do your Santa for you,” he said.
He travelled through town with the fire department for two years before hanging up the fur lined boots and red toque.
After a rather long hiatus from the role, he was asked by his daughter to be Santa at her work Christmas Party with Albi Homes seven years ago.
“They were kind enough to buy me a brand-new Santa suit and told me it was mine for doing their party,” said Wood.
“I figured what a nice gift that was,” he said.
With his new suit and the great experience of the Christmas party, Wood said he was hooked.
The following year, Albi Homes asked Wood to be their Santa when they visited a school they had “adopted” for the holiday.
“As soon as I walked in the gym I was mobbed,” said Wood, “they were on my legs, jumping at me.”
He said that that experience was what convinced him to keep being Santa every year.
Ever since then, the word has spread through the community which has led to more requests to be Santa.
Since returning to the role, Woods has grown out real beard, something he feels makes for a better Santa experience.
Woods has been Santa at such events as Christmas with Dignity, the Chestermere Station Christmas Party, the CRCA family Christmas Parties and many other seasonal events.
Wood said that the key to being a good Santa is to let the kids come to him.
“It might take some children a bit longer than others,” he said.
“If they want to come up and see me that’s fine, if they don’t I understand it,” said Wood.
In his time as Santa he’s had every possible good and bad experience with kids.
“I’ve had kids wet their pants on my lap, cry, I’ve been through all that,” said Wood.
The good experiences outweigh the bad though.
“The good side of things is the smiles on their faces, they don’t want to leave you,” he said.
“That’s what makes it worthwhile,” said Wood, “to see their smiles and them being happy.”
Working with kids can lead to all kinds of surprises.
Wood does his best to research the newest toys and trends to reduce the likelihood of being asked for gifts he’s never heard of.
Despite the work, every now and then a kid manages to surprise him with a question.
“One of the weirdest questions that I’ve ever been asked as Santa…when’s my birthday.
“That stumped me a bit,” he said, “I just gave him my birthdate.”
He said that when he got home that night he actually googled when Santa’s birthday was.
“Different countries have different birth dates for Santa,” he said.
As Santa, Wood said that he makes sure to never guarantee a present for a child.
He’ll ask if they’ve been good this year and tell them that if they’ve been good this year there’s a chance he can get them that gift.