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Buckeye Santa Coming to Town

Hamilton, Ohio – Santa Claus may come but once a year, but being Santa Claus is considerably more than a one-day gig.

At least for Bryan Miller, president of the Buckeye Santas.

Somewhere between a social club and guild society, the Buckeye Santas are a collection of Ohio Christmas workers – Santa Clauses, of course; but also Mrs. Clauses, elves and other Santa’s helpers – who want to exchange best practices, share booking information and gather in fellowship.

Miller serves as featured speaker for the Celebrating Self luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7, at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts. He’ll share trade secrets direct from the North Pole. (Or – you know – his home in Morrow County, near Mt. Vernon, Ohio.)

“I always thought Santa Claus was just some dude in a red suit who entertained kids,” Miller said. “I had no idea.”

But when Miller’s beard turned white in his mid-40s – very young considering the median age of a professional Santa Claus across the country is 72 years old and only three Buckeye Santas are under the age of 60 - he began to learn.

Take the suit, for just one example.

“Is it a costume or is it a suit,” Miller asked. “Did you get it for 30 bucks at Party City? Or did you have something tailor-made for you? Velvet, fur, real leather belt and boots, not those lace-up boot covers. There’s a lot of expense that goes into creating authentic experiences.”

Or as authentic an experience as one can create – Shhhh! Don’t tell the kiddos this part – around a fictional character. It’s not like Miller keeps a real naughty-and-nice list or has a stable full of flying reindeer at home.

In fact, he’s a computer programmer by day.

“Most of the guys take it maybe a little too seriously,” Miller admitted. “You have to call them Santa when you see them at the grocery store. They’re always on. Always in character.

“Being Santa takes a lot of effort for me. When I’m Santa, I’m performing. It’s very much like a switch. You turn it on and turn it off. In real life, I’m actually kind of an introvert.”

But between Thanksgiving and early January, he and his brethren in the holiday business can turn on the jolly 10 or 11 hours a day, seven days a week. They work in stores and corporate events. They appear in local holiday parades and private parties. Santa spends time in senior centers and spreads holiday cheer to children’s hospitals.

“That’s the thing,” Miller said. “You want to see the delight, the wonder. That’s the joy of the season. You’re bringing magic to people who might not always have magic in their lives. And that is a lot fun.”

The Fitton Center for Creative Arts is located at 101 S. Monument Avenue on the Riverfront in downtown Hamilton, Ohio.

Building Community Excellence through the Arts and Culture

Who: Bryan Miller What: Celebrating Self – Christmas Lunch with the Buckeye Santas When: 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7 Where: Fitton Center for Creative Arts, 101 S. Monument Ave., Hamilton, Ohio 45011 How: Tickets $19 for Fitton Center members, $25 for general public; available online hereor by phone at 513-863-8873, ext. 110

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