For 30 years, Arvada resident John Shager has been donning the red and white suit every holiday season to bring smiles to children of all ages across the Front Range. Santa John, as he’s come to be known, is the spitting image of jolly old Saint Nick, and loves hopeful and happy children likely as much as the real thing. His list of professional certifications and memberships is impressive—especially to people who actually knew these things existed: Graduate 2007 and 2008 Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School, Magna Cum Santa; founding member, Fellowship of Servant Santas; charter member, justbeclaus.net; charter member, International Order of Santas; charter member, Society of Santa (SOS); and finally, member, Santa Claus Hall of Fame. With such a dedication to the craft, it’s hard to tell where John ends and Kris Kringle begins…
French Davis: When did you decide to start delivering toys to boys and girls all over the world?
Santa John: It was longer ago than I can even remember… But, it seems like only yesterday in my heart.
FD: How do you handle manufacturing? Your operation must be unbelievably large?
SJ: The manufacturing process is easy. ELF POWER. We have a gazillion happy Elves with one common goal, making all the boys and girls in the world happy. Four-hundred, twenty square miles, entered through a relatively small door, all underneath the North Pole. It takes a day and half to walk from one end of the warehouse to the next.
FD: Do your elves have a union? Any issues with labor strikes, slowdowns, etc.?
SJ: My Elves (by the way, at the North Pole, “Elves” is a proper noun and it’s always spelled with a capital ‘E’) don’t belong to any formal organization as such, although they do get together quite regularly, to plan and improve our production system. Suggestions are voted on by casting votes with snowballs… So the next time you see a snowball fight, just imagine the “voting” that goes on when 100 gazillion Elves (give or take a couple of quadzillion) get together to vote on something!
FD: So, elephant in the room: My Jewish friend says you’ve never been to his crib. What’s up with that?
SJ: Santa never comes into a child’s room but only visits the room where the Christmas tree is. I usually do not visit homes that do not have a tree displayed because I don’t want to impose my traditions on those who do not share my beliefs.
FD: Has technology crept into your work at all or are you still doing things the old way?
SJ: Actually, it’s the folks “South of the North Pole” who are doing it the “old way!” Virtually all of your “time saving” methods and “modern conveniences” are old news at the Pole. Why, we’ve had computers for centuries, and I still don’t think you’ve any mode of transportation that can circle the globe, making millions of stops, in one night. Technology? Elves bells, it was invented at the Pole! And we’ll be sharing it with folks all over the world on a regular basis. Why, I can hardly wait to show you what’s in store for you for Christmas 2347!
FD: Where exactly does one find flying reindeer?
SJ: My Reindeer DON’T fly, although that’s an understandable misunderstanding. I explained the answer to that question to Christmas author Bob Litak, and he wrote it down in his Christmas classic 101 Questions About Santa Claus. As to “where to look for them,” try almost everywhere, in the night sky, on December 24!
FD: Rudolph: true story or just hype?
SJ: Rudolph’s very real and a most valued member of my team—especially after we got that bubble-gum thingy worked out!
FD: What does Santa do for escapism?
SJ: I like to watch movies. We also have some great soccer matches at the North Pole, and I am the referee. It is hard to see me among 40 quadzillion Elves playing with 3,000 soccer balls on the field at the same time, but we enjoy our free time.
FD: What are Santa’s favorite movies?
SJ: My favorite movies are ones that folks take of families opening their Christmas presents. Although the ones from the 6th and 7th centuries are getting a little worn by now. I’ll probably have to copy them to DVD or maybe, better yet, CrystalCopy. Oops, I forgot, I’m not bringing folks “Crystal Copy” technology until Christmas 2106. Oh, and I do love “Miracle on 34th Street.”
FD: What does Santa want for Christmas?
SJ: A trash removal system for the North Pole because for now we take all the left over parts—and we have lots of extra parts, usually one per toy—and make toys for the boys and girls who tell me they don’t know what they want for Christmas. We call them “I don’t know toys,” and we truly don’t know what they are. It could have a Barbie or Hannah Montana head, bicycle wheels for arms or legs, training wheels, scooter bodies, or transformer parts from 300 transformers. The boys and girls just tell their friends they don’t know what they got for Christmas, and we don’t know either. Oh, and world peace and good will amongst all.
FD: It’s Dec. 26. What are you doing now?
SJ: Getting ready for December 24, 2009! What else did you expect? Ho Ho Ho!