Long before Macy’s canceled its Santaland — a popular experience whose indoor crowds are hard to disassociate from superspreader concerns — Santas, and those who hire or work with them, were brainstorming about making the Christmas season safe.
“In August I put UV lights in my van so I could sanitize my jacket and bought a temperature gun which I covered in Buzz Lightyear stickers,” said Santa Claus, an impersonator formerly known as Frank Pascuzzi who changed his name legally in 2012.
For the past 25 years, Mr. Claus, 62, of Copiague, Long Island, has dressed up as the jolly man in red. (He also designs fire sprinkler systems and runs a catering company, Santa’s BBQ.) This year he has doubled down on safety measures, but with a festive touch. “I ordered Santa masks that look like my face in case I’m with kids and I need to be masked. I’m doing everything I can to prove I’m safe.”
Despite the rising coronavirus cases across the United States, the spirit of the season has prevailed and much of the Santa Claus industrial complex has adapted to the pandemic.
“Everyone is ready to have some joy, happiness and calm,” said Amanda Demasi, 31, the owner of Picture Perfect Photography in Holtsville, N.Y. “They want the routine of what they did last year.”
Mitch Allen runs Hire Santa, an independent staffing contracting company based in Dallas. He works with over 50 Santas in New York and over 1,000 across the country, and recently put in place a safe Santa program.
“We’ve created 6-by-6 acrylic shields with a bench base that we are sending to our retail clients so there’s protection between Santa and the children,” said Mr. Allen, 49. “We’ve extended mall hours and added more days so people can social distance,” he continued, adding that visits will be conducted six feet apart. “No one will be sitting on Santa’s lap.”