LOS ANGELES - We’re on the cusp of another Thanksgiving, then another Christmas and then the New Year. We are a breath away from Holiday Season 2020.
But it’s not just another holiday season. It’s a pandemic one. So, what can we expect? We’ve already seen some evidence in this country. In one case for which we now have video, we see a little boy using a walkie talkie to chat with Santa Claus, who sits behind the Plexiglas while kids have their temperatures taken and then taking socially-distant pictures.
Kids know Santa works up at the North Pole. But, Joe Harkins says, “Santa knows that people are worried about the pandemic and have to be safe.”
If Santa is the big guy, Joe is one of his big helpers. Santa has many helpers with white beards and red suits giving him a hand at shopping centers, parties and at hospitals bringing the holiday cheer to patients.
Harkins knows that COVID-19 has created obstacles, but he says, “that doesn’t mean that any of us - whether Santa or the wonderful children who love Santa -- have to give up the joy... the fun... the magic of Christmas.”
Harkins admits the pandemic has been “so frustrating.” That’s because “none of us have ever experienced anything like that."
Every year, he revels in the ability to have meaningful chats and find out whose been naughty and nice. Santa Joe is 87-years-old and, as a result, he is concerned about his health saying that he hasn’t felt anything like this since World War II.
He says, “it’s a daily, every-moment thing knowing this is going on somewhere outside your door and you're a part of it and yes, I’m very protective. I’d like to be around a long time.”
He’s already missing the warmth and emotion of his job. Says Santa Harkin, “I can not have the children come and hug me and there’s nothing like it.”
So, he’s making Christmas work by creating videos for children.
He charges about $45 a piece. They are personalized and to help other Santa helpers who may be out of work because of the pandemic.
He’s also using this opportunity to create jobs. He says he’s got about 450 real-beard Santa-helpers on his video-making team. He got orders for some 5,000 the first day. So, in his very jolly way, Santa Joe says, “HO HO HO!!! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. HO HO HO!!!”
You can click here for more information on getting personalized videos from Santa.