Santa Claus shortage caused by COVID: “They tend to get sick”

Meeting Santa is an annual tradition for some families, but a nationwide reported shortage of Santa Claus means there are fewer Saint Nicks to meet this year. And COVID is to blame.

Mitch Allen, Founder of Hire Santa, a national Santa recruiting company (once featured in ‘Shark Tank’), said, “We are seeing an increase of at least 120% in our demand for Santa’s services this year. year, but we actually have 15% fewer Santa Claus due to a number of COVID passes. “

Allen also said many are withdrawing from events due to COVID because they are “at high risk, or getting old and withdrawing from being Santa Claus.”


Even with a busy schedule as a state representative, New Milford’s Bill Buckbee has been on vacation being Santa since he was 20. He even appeared on Comedy Central in the role and wrote a book about it called “Behind the Beard”. He works for The Santa Claus Company and said people have called him to replace him as some places are struggling to find a Santa Claus.

“Santa is traditionally an older man and they tend to get sick. With COVID still around, I’m not surprised there is a shortage,” he said. “It hurts to have to say no to some … I can’t face more than I already do.”

SPECTRUM / Bill Buckbee from New Milford shared his vibrant personality with folks in the Tupolo, Mississippi area during his holiday season gig as Santa Claus. December 2010. This is a photo sent as a postcard to friends at home. Courtesy of Bill Buckbee

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Despite the shortage, Connecticut venues and events are welcoming Santa Claus again this year. Buckbee’s next events are New Haven Tree Lighting on Thursday, December 2, and an appearance at Harrybrooke Park in New Milford on Saturday, December 4.

He said being Santa Claus was “the most rewarding thing he could ask to do.”

And unlike 2020, which was the year of Santa Claus behind plexiglass, most places offer both socially distant and non-socially distant options for Santa Claus photos.

Connecticut Post Mall Marketing Director Kelly Hapken said the mall was excited to find Santa Claus and had no problem finding Santa Claus this year. The requirement was that Santa Claus and his elves be vaccinated.

“Safety remains our top priority. With the exception of Santa Claus, staff and associates of our photo partner Cherry Hill Programs are required to wear face coverings. Guests are not required to wear masks,” he said. she declared.

Danbury Mall has also hired Cherry Hill Santas and requires all staff, including Santa Claus, to be vaccinated except for medical and religious exemptions. COVID testing is mandatory for exempt employees.

At Stew Leonard’s in Danbury and Norwalk, all Santa Claus will be vaccinated and posted outside.

“They are unmasked, but depending on the comfort level of the parents / guardians, they are happy to put on their masks for a socially distanced photo with children,” spokeswoman Meghan Bell said.

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