Catonsville Patch: Do you prefer riding on the fire engine or on your sleigh?
Santa Claus: It’s a grand tradition to come in to Catonsville riding on the fire engine and besides, it gives the reindeer a rest.
Patch: Where are your reindeer?
Santa: Because the Santa House in Catonsville is right next to the firehouse, if the sirens go off, it scares the reindeer. So I leave them down at Patapsco State Park where they get to visit their cousins, the deer.
Patch: How do you get into houses that don’t have chimneys?
Santa: Just like his friend the Easter Bunny, Santa has special keys that fit many, many houses and I get in that way.
Patch: How long have you been coming to Catonsville at Christmas time?
Santa: Santa Claus has been coming to Catonsville ever since the beginning of Catonsville when it was just a small village.
Patch: Do you get tired of wearing the same thing every day?
Santa: Oh no, I don’t wear this suit every day. This is my cold weather suit that I wear to keep warm in the sleigh. In different parts of the world, I wear different things.
Patch: How many children do you talk to in Catonsville in total over the season?
Santa: The ones I actually talk to, probably about 700 to 800, but I visit every child in Catonsville.
Patch: What’s the age of the oldest child who has visited you?
Santa: Oh, there is no age limit to the people I visit with; I see parents and grandparents. There is no age limit in believing.
Patch: What are most children asking for this year?
Santa: It used to be that children asked for bicycles and baby dolls, but now the real big, number one item is iPads and computer games. There are still a lot of young girls asking for American Girl dolls, but the biggest items by far are the electronic games.
Patch: Have you noticed people asking for different things because of the economy?
Santa: Yes. I’ve had children say they don’t need anything and they would like to donate their presents to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or the American Cancer Society. That is a really nice thing to hear from children, that they want to give to others, just like Santa does.
Patch: What is the saddest thing anyone has ever asked for?
Santa: A mother one time asked me to just make sure that her little son who had passed away just two months before, that he be happy. It made me do what I’m doing right now [crying]. And another child said that all he wanted was for his mom and dad to get back together. That’s the tough part of this job. There are some things that Santa can’t do. But Santa can always bring hope.
Patch: Why do you think some children are scared of you?
Santa: Well, it might be the deep voice and also with all the beard and mustache, they can’t see my smile and they get scared. But after the first visit, they get used to me and come back time after time.
Patch: Has anyone ever hurt you or done something mean?
Santa: Even dogs that are supposed to be watch dogs are friendly to me. Nobody has ever bothered Santa.
Patch: What is the hardest thing about your job?
Santa: Seeing how some children aren’t as lucky as others.
Patch: What do you love most about your job?
Santa: Smiling faces. People are happy when they’re with Santa.
Patch: Are you getting older or have you always been this age?
Santa: I’m always getting older and hopefully getting wiser, and I hope I can continue what I’ve been doing for many years to come.
Patch: What is the most important thing for people to know about Santa?
Santa: You don’t need Santa to have a good community, to have people who care and to show kindness. Santa only represents one day of the year, the other 364 days, you have to do those things on your own.
Patch: Speaking of those other days, what do you do in the off season?
Santa: Santa needs R & R just like everyone else. I take time off, so do the elves and the reindeer and Mrs. Claus.
Patch: What do YOU want for Christmas?
Santa: Ohhhh, I would like for the rest of the world to be as good and as happy and as giving as the people in Catonsville.
Patch: Thank you, Santa!