New employee Andrea Rose reports on discovering a Santa in our midst.
On my first day at Reid Middleton, I was introduced to Allan Morgan with the question “who do you think this guy is?” A thick white beard, deep voice, and big smile . . . he just had to be Santa. Recently, I asked Allan to talk about his holiday alter ego.
How long have you played Santa, and what got you started?
Over ten years total and four years at the office that I can recall; but I’m not counting. My wife was the instigator when our first grandchild was born. She’s an organizer and got me involved at hospitals and visiting cancer patients and terminally ill people both young and old.
Tell me about your costumes and beard.
In creating my coat and hat, my wife followed the European tradition. The coat took about two months and enough cash to discourage her from doing more! My Bavarian outfit is from Austria. My beard begins its transformation in July each year.
What charities and groups are you involved with?
Wow—almost too many to name. Donations for office photos are for the American Cancer Society (we raised $550 last year), and other events have benefited the Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, Seattle Children’s Hospital, the Children’s Museum, orphanages in Uruguay, India, and Cambodia, and my church in Edmonds. I’ve visited friends and folks at Providence Hospital in Everett, the VA Hospital, and Harborview Trauma Center in Seattle. I also do rounds on a few floors at Swedish Hospital in Edmonds.
What are some memorable moments and personal rewards you’ve experienced?
Playing on the carpet with a little boy who had challenges dealing with strangers. Watching Reid Middleton employees’ children and extended families grow. Visiting hospitals and retirement homes where patients are not mobile and often have no visitors brings tears to my heart and often my eyes.
I don’t do this for me, but for children and people in need. I like creating memories for children to have when they are older, and for people who sometimes feel forgotten, I like helping them know that they matter. I know that children are vulnerable to strangers and that a patient, gentle smile and open arms help them become comfortable and feel less threatened.
Any funny/unusual mishaps or reactions?
I know that sitting for too long with heavy folk on my knee puts my legs to sleep and makes standing up again feel like I’ve been into the punch bowl too often! Pets and babies have been no problem, but pet owners can be a challenge.
Advice for other Santas?
Remember that your smile and what you eat can affect the reactions people have. Brush your teeth and use breath mints!
How big of a crowd have you visited? Do you get nervous, tired, or grumpy?
I’ve spent four hours with 400 children, sitting and smiling even when they weren’t in the mood. So far no grumpiness. Nerves only happened once when I was asked to get up in front of a large crowd to talk to a child who asked for a toy that I wasn’t familiar with. How did I answer that? I punted: “Oh sure, we have those – what color do you like?” “They only come in one color,” was the reply. The audience laughed and Santa blushed with a wink and a “ho ho ho”!
Have any famous people had a photo taken with you?
The only person I can recall is the Bill Gates look-alike Steve Sires.
Do your smile muscles get sore?
No cramps in the smile department! But it can take a toll on me, and a nap can come quickly later in the day.
Thank you Allan!