SYCAMORE – In his spare time between making a list and checking it twice, Santa Claus traveled from the North Pole to visit with children in Sycamore the weekends leading up to Christmas.
Each year, about 800 children stop by Santa’s House in Sycamore, located on the lawn of the DeKalb County Courthouse.
Beginning with a “Ho ho ho,” Santa spoke to MidWeek reporter Katrina Milton about his visit to Sycamore before rushing back to his workshop at the North Pole in time to deliver presents on Christmas Eve.
Milton: Do you have helpers at your house in Sycamore?
Santa Claus: Mrs. Claus comes to a few local events every year, like the Sycamore tree lighting. Elf Susie Oliveros helps when I’m at my house on the courthouse lawn. She is bilingual, which is very important when talking to children who speak Spanish. She’s a wonderful helper. She entertains the children while they wait to see me. Last week, the windows on the door were foggy, and she played tic-tac-toe on the windowpanes. She uses dry erase markers now. She greets families and helps organize visits, playing traffic cop and allowing one family in the house at a time. She is very important. Santa can’t do his job without Elf Susie doing hers.
Milton: Tell me more about your outfit.
Santa Claus: People always wave when they see me in my outfit. The outfit I wear when I’m at my house in Sycamore is provided by the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce and the Sycamore Park District. My outfit includes boots, red pants and coat, suspenders and of course my hat.
Milton: Are you recognized as Santa in everyday clothes?
Santa Claus: I often get recognized by little children when not in my outfit. I was in Applebee’s a week ago, and a little boy, about 2 years old, came up to me. His parents brought him over because he recognized me and wanted to say hi to Santa. I guess it was my beard.
Milton: What are popular toys this year?
Santa Claus: Hatchimals are a hot item. Girls are asking for L.O.L Surprise Dolls and boys like dinosaurs. Barbie dolls are always popular, as are electronic games, the Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch. There are a lot of children asking for drones, too.
Milton: What was one of oddest gift requests you’ve ever had?
Santa Claus: Once, two years ago, a young lady asked me for a goat. She was in 4-H, and the goat was going to be her project for the summer. Her mom and dad were very supportive of the idea. When children ask me for pets, I tell them to talk to their parents first, because it’s important to have their permission.
Milton: Can you describe what a visit with Santa is like?
Santa Claus: Everyone loves to come in and visit with me, from newborns to 84-year-olds. Once, an 84-year-old grandma sat on my lap, posing for a family photo. Elf Susie is the photographer. Visiting with me is completely free, and every child receives a gift from me and a candy cane as they leave.
Milton: What do you like the most about your job?
Santa Claus: Everything I do, I do for the children. I love to see their bewilderment and excitement when they see me. It’s all about the kids. They make Christmas special. There’s nothing in the world like the feeling of a kid recognizing me, running up to me, giving me a big hug and sitting on my lap. I love being a part of their Christmas tradition.