Every Christmas for 25 years, James Masten of Smyrna has been delivering holiday cheer as Santa Claus. Masten spoke with the Smyrna-Clayton Sun Times to shed light on his enjoyable experience as the pleasantly plump, gift giver.


Every Christmas for 25 years, James Masten of Smyrna has been delivering holiday cheer as Santa Claus. Masten spoke with the Smyrna-Clayton Sun Times to shed light on his enjoyable experience as the pleasantly plump, gift giver.

Q What made you want to become Old Saint Nick?
AI just thought it was a fun idea and something nice to do for the children; I love seeing the kids happy and excited.

Q On average how many kids do you see? Have any of them shown any doubt in you being Santa?
AWell that typically depends on the kind of event I’m doing, but I guess, on average, it would be 25 to 30 kids. Sure, sometimes you have your doubters [laughs]; but then again, at the same time, some of the younger ones are scared to come up to see me. For the most part a lot of the kids are more excited to see and get to talk to Santa.

Q How busy does it get for Santa? When Christmas is over do you take a long break as well?
AAround this time especially is when I’m probably the busiest. Typically I’ll make eight to 10 Santa appearances a month, whether it’s private events or something public in town [laughs]. To answer the second part, I do take short breaks when the holidays are done, but not that often.

Q If you wrote a letter to Santa yourself, what would you ask for?
AIf I wrote one to Santa I guess I would ask for him to make the economy better [laughs]; that’s one of the first things I could think of. Also I would ask for there to be fewer divorces; that would probably be my second thing.

Q What’s your family’s take on you being Santa? How have they supported you?
AWell for starters, my wife helps out a lot with getting me dressed and doing my makeup by doing my eyebrows and making my cheeks a rosy red. I have one son and four grandkids and they all love it from my youngest to my eldest.  My youngest grandson actually found my costume in my closet once and left me a little note saying, “Grandpa you lied to me” [laughs]. But he forgave me and still enjoys it.

Q Who is prime to take your spot as Santa once you decide to pass it down?
AMy eldest grandson probably. He’s a senior at Smyrna High School and he shows a lot of interest in what I do, and this year he’ll probably be taking me around to more of these different events because of it.

Q How many people will actually make it to your naughty list this year?
AI would say about three that I won’t name because they’re going to read this paper and see what I said [laughs].

Q Tim Allen, former “Home Improvement” TV star, has starred in both the “Santa Clause” and the “Santa Clause 2”. Between you and Tim Allen, who would you say is the better Santa?
A[Laughs]. Well I would have to say me, because I’m the best Santa there is. Every Christmas Eve I go to different neighborhoods where families would leave gifts outside and I come in as Santa and surprise their kids with gifts.

Q What other magic do you bring to the holidays?
AI never ask for payment, but whatever people decide to give me I donate to charities that help bring joy to kids whose parents are absent in their life for whatever the case may be. That’s very important to me because no child should feel sad on Christmas.