Part 5 - Getting a Jump on the Holidays - Santa Claus

Saturday, November 22, 2014

What Christmas series would be complete without an appearance by the big guy in the red suit?  I know I can't forget him - especially since I've met him!  That's right, I've met the 'real Santa'!!  In fact I've even blogged about him before.  Would you believe I saw Santa in May??   There wasn't even any snow on the ground and Rudolph wasn't even with him.  He wasn't wearing his red suit, but I recognized him anyway.  Heck, he wasn't wearing a disguise, so it was easy to spot him - even in his shorts and t-shirt......

See what I mean?  How could you miss him?  I could barely believe my eyes and suddenly I was a kid again.  Well, I caught up with Santa again yesterday, but before I fill you in on what he had to say, let me remind you what happened when I met Santa back in May (from the post, "Celebrity at the Ice Cream Stand".)........................  

I've talked in my blog before about photo excursions taking us to unexpected places, and across the paths of unexpected people.  Tonight was one of those occasions.   The clouds had parted and the sun was on its way to setting, so I suggested to John that we take a drive to the river hoping we might catch a pretty sunset.    Although the sky was pretty with wispy clouds which reflected nicely on the river, the sun had dipped behind some heavy, lower cloud cover so it looked as though a sunset wasn't in the cards tonight.  Since we were already out, I suggested a stop for soft ice cream at our favorite snack bar, Devoe's Rainbow Delights.  As we were about to park, I noticed a van next to us..........

Not exactly what you'd expect to see on the 25th of May, nor was the man at the ice cream counter.... 
Naturally I was curious about this Santa look-alike.......heck, maybe he is the "real" Santa.  As you might expect, Santa drew a lot of attention from the evening ice cream crowd.  At one point he went to a van as it was leaving and visited with the passengers inside.  As he was about to finally get back into his vehicle (where Mrs. Claus had been patiently waiting for her celebrity husband to finish greeting his fans), I decided to introduce myself in hopes of getting to know this "Santa Claus".

It seems our Santa was Fred Clark, Sr, otherwise known as the Saratoga Santa.  Fred bears a striking resemblance to the real "Santa", don't you think?

Borrowed from the Internet - Fred Clark, Sr., aka Santa Claus
He might even believe he "is" the real Santa.   After working for 31 yrs in the Saratoga School District, Fred now makes his living lighting up the smiles of children and adults during the holidays - and beyond.  It was clear tonight that it doesn't matter what time of year it is, people, young and old, are excited when they see Santa Claus - especially at their local ice cream bar.  Mr. Claus was gracious and eager to share his stories and photos with us.  He actually had a photo album of himself and various children in his van, as well as business cards - both adult versions and some for kids too! What a delight it was to meet this kind and generous man who spends his days making joy for believers, young and old.  Even though Mr. & Mrs. Claus had come to Devoe's for maple cream ice cream, which was last week's flavor of the week and no longer available, they visited with patrons and posed for pictures and graciously answered questions from the paparazzi (me).   One of the fun facts Santa shared with us was that he is one of 17 children - all born of the "same mother and father."   He was very proud of that and why wouldn't he be?   In a day of disposable marriages, a couple staying together after raising 17 kids is pretty remarkable.  How blessed I am to have happened upon such a special human being!   Once I got home, I googled 'Saratoga Santa'.  It seems Santa is pretty popular around these parts.  Some of you may have even run into him at the Victorian Stroll in Saratoga.  There are hundreds of images of him on the internet, an interview done by Time Warner Cable and articles of his appearances all over the area.  He's done commercials for Mohawk Honda and an upcoming commercial for Hoffman Car Wash.  Santa is available for hire at office parties, nursing home visits, schools, house calls and more.  I can imagine he keeps pretty busy since he's the best looking Santa I've ever seen and trust me, at my age, I've seen a lot.  It might be of interest to note that Saratoga Santa's career began 19 years ago when his wife convinced him to enter a "Santa-Look-Alike contest.   Goes to show, wives always know!  
My only disappointment was that we hadn't run into him there last week when we were there with our granddaughter, Elena.  What a thrill that would have been!!  So next time you're inclined to stay home and veg in your recliner, consider getting out.  You never know who God has planned to be in your path.  It might even be Santa!
Borrowed from the internet - Fred Clark, Sr.
So that was quite a thrill.  I'd kept Santa's business card (of course Santa has a business card, silly), and since I was writing a series of Christmas posts, I decided it might be fun to catch up with the Man of the Hour.

Since this is Santa's busy season after all, I felt pretty lucky to have him return my call last evening.  It seems Santa has polished his boots, laundered his suit, trimmed his whiskers and is already in full gear helping to make things merry all around the Capital Region.  Santa was even featured in the current issue of  "Simply Saratoga" magazine.   Here's a little sneak peak from that.
photo courtesy of "Simply Saratoga"

photo courtesy of Simply Saratoga

 Be sure to pick your copy up today - in the front of most grocery stores!  You'll want to read Santa's full interview.

Are you getting the picture now?  Mr. Clark (Santa) is quite the celebrity.  He even has his picture on a very special "holiday edition" wine bottle at the Saratoga Winery!  If you like a dry, red wine, check the schedule below to visit Santa at the winery in December.
Santa has a very full schedule from now until Christmas Eve, but if you want to meet this fascinating man, he has many public appearances scheduled where you can bring your kids, grandkids and your camera and capture a photo with the best looking and, might I add sweetest, Santa I've ever met.  Although Santa is pretty busy, he did tell me he has a few openings in his weekday schedule if you want to schedule him for a special person or group you know.


Here's Santa's schedule in case you want to say hi:
  • Sun., 11/23, 1:00 at the Glens Falls Parade. Prior to that from 10:30-12:30 inside of the Glens Falls National Bank near Hannaford
  • Sat., 11/29 from 11:30-2:30 at Equinox Valley Nursery in Manchester VT
  • Sat., 11/29 from 3:00-6:00pm at Orvis Retail Store (brand new building) Manchester VT Dogs allowed!
  • Thur., 12/4 from 6:00-9:00pm on the porch of Maestro's on Broadway for the Victorian Stroll
  • Sun., 12/7 from 8:00-10:00 Breakfast with Santa, Hilton Garden (So. Broadway, Saratoga) reservations needed
  • Sun., 12/7 from 1:00-3:00 at Plum Dandy Cookies & Milk, Railroad Place, Saratoga Springs
  • Tues., 12/9 Olive Garden, Upper Glen Street, Glens Falls (check for times)
  • Fri., 12/12 5:30-9:30 WGNA "Night at the North Pole" event at the Best Western on Wolf Rd.  Overnight event......Check link below for more details.
  • Sat., 12/13 from 8:00-10:00 am Breakfast with Santa, Hilton Garden, So. Broadway, Saratoga (reservations required)
  • Sat., 12/13 from 11:00-2:00 at The Saratoga Winery, Rt. 29 Saratoga
  • Sun., 12/14 from 9:30-12:30 Breakfast with Santa at The Docksider Restaurant on Glen Lake (reservations required)
  • Wed., 12/24 from 9:00-11:00 at the Saratoga Hilton, Breakfast with Santa to benefit the Saratoga Warhorse - Check for details and reservations
Thanks for reading my mini series on Getting a Jump on the Holidays!  This can be a very hectic and stressful time of the year.  Let us remember the true reason for the season.  Remember, holidays are about being with the people we love, making memories and celebrating together.  It's not about finding the perfect or most expensive gift.  Once we keep this our focus, we can stop the stress and focus on what this season is really about.   Now go out and find some mistletoe and hug the 'elves' in your life.


  1. Once again Gail, a superb job. The entire series was most professional and informative. Thanks for all of the time and thought that you put into your blog. Happy Thanksgiving. Nancy K.

    1. Thank you Nancy! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!


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