You’ve seen them everywhere: shopping malls, parades and ... well, shopping malls and parades.
Many of them are a spitting image of Santa Claus himself, complete with rosy cheeks, beards of white and twinkles in their eyes. But they also know their roles in the grand scheme of Christmas and play them with gusto and enthusiasm.
They refer to themselves as Santa’s Helpers, a collection of individuals who work to spread the joy of Christmas under the real Santa’s watchful eye.
Nooga.com was given permission from "the source" for an exclusive interview with one of these helpers.
Many know him as Jason Ward, but during the holidays, he becomes the Scenic City Santa.
He travels to various parties, events and churches in a lime green sport utility vehicle, and his Southern accent adds an endearing touch to his role.
His busy schedule included an appearance at Lafayette's annual Christmas parade last week through the historical downtown.
Santa, traditionally the final float of a parade, rode atop a gorgeous Lafayette Fire Department fire truck and tossed candy canes to the children below. Following the parade, Ward (Santa) braved the freezing temperatures for a free photo shoot at Joe Stock Park.
Throughout the parade, Ward waved and shouted "merry Christmas" at wide-eyed children along the sidewalk.
We were able to catch up with Santa for a few minutes before he climbed aboard the fire truck to chat about life, his role as a helper and what it means to be good.
What is Santa’s job/role?
Santa's role is to spread the joy of Christmas to young and old, remind folks to love each other and help our fellow man.
Describe your mindset as you interact with a child in character.
I AM SANTA: For so many, this may be their first and only time meeting Santa. Therefore, I want their memory of me to be magical and one that keeps their imagination and love for Christmas growing.
As Jason, tell me about what prompted you to make a career move and join Santa’s Helpers?
I still have "one foot in corporate America," but I began to realize in 2005 that our short time on this earth should be about a legacy beyond monetary wealth and job titles. I now strive to TRULY balance life and work so I can have time to bring joy to so many.
Have you met any of the other Santa’s Helpers? What makes you different?
With so many boys and girls, there are plenty of Santa's Helpers that I have met along the way. No matter how cold (or hot) I am, no matter how many naughty kids or parents I meet, I always look at every child as special and make them feel loved and cared for. In our society, many kids have a troubled life. My job is to give them a few moments of hope, love, inspiration and Christmas magic. That is what I deliver each and every time. I am passionate about children and helping my fellow man.
What does it mean to be "good"?
Good to your parents, good to your siblings ... good to ALL around you. Good is the "golden rule": Do unto others. This applies to the adults as well. Children look up to me (Santa) and listen to me just a few short weeks each year. For most of the year, it's up to the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to do your part and remind the kids to "BE good" all year long and not just in December so Santa will bring more presents. The best way we can "tell" them to be good is practicing good deeds and behavior year-round. Remember, kids are ALWAYS watching and listening, even with their nose buried in a tablet or headphones or video game.
Updated @ 9:29 a.m. on 12/17/13 to correct a factual error: Jason's last name is Ward, not Hall, as originally reported.
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