From the director:
I have discovered angels living among us. They have no wings and they wear red suits. They radiate joy and jingle like sleigh bells when they walk. These beings are perhaps our last connection to the magic and innocence we knew when we were children.
I want to show you a world where Santa Claus is much more than a department store backdrop for overpriced snapshots. There exist a handful of men who have devoted their lives to living the legend of Santa and making him real for all of us. It is their calling, their vocation and their career.
Growing up in the 1960s, a stone's throw from Santa Claus, Indiana, I got to visit the "real" Santa Claus at his home in Santa Claus Land many times. I grew up knowing that all other Santas I'd see in stores, malls and parades were only his "helpers." His name was Jim Yellig, and in researching this project, I learned that Jim is revered among those who wear the Red Suit. He was a creator of the template that all other Santas strive to duplicate.
This project took root on December 21, 2010 when I returned to Santa Claus, IN and visited the Christmas Store. While my wife was shopping, I relaxed in the coffee shop. My attention was captured by the Santa who was visiting children in his "living room" adjacent to the coffee counter. I sat transfixed for over an hour, watching this man work his magic on the children and their parents. He was a master, and his passion for his vocation was obvious. I saw many of the mannerisms and techniques that I had seen in my visits with Santa Jim Yellig. Soon I had tears in my eyes, wishing that I was a child so I could sit on his knee and feel that magic once again.
I became obsessed with knowing what led these men to their vocation, and how the knowledge of Santas like Jim Yellig was passed down through the generations. Beginning my search for answers, I quickly crossed paths with Phillip L. Wenz, a man whose 27 year full-time career as Santa is second only to Jim Yellig’s career of 38 years at Santa Claus Land. Wenz has been Chicago's Santa Claus for decades in addition to his year round position at Santa's Village theme park. Phil was enthusiastic about my project and shared a wealth of knowledge and historical documents, photos and film about the world of Santa. He has been instrumental in this project and without him, it probably wouldn't be happening.
Here is a bit of footage from our initial interview with Phil as preparations were being made for the re-opening of Santa's Village in 2011:
The April 9th, 2011 Santa Workshop in Santa Claus, Indiana was an important event for professional Santas from across the nation. Over 100 Santas attended seminars, discussed Santa history, delivered patriotic presentations and even watched as one Santa and Mrs.Claus renewed their wedding vows.
2012's Jim Yellig Workshop in Santa Claus, Indiana was even more spectacular!. Business workshops, Hall of Fame inductions, emotional presentations - and it may have set a record for the largest Santa Gathering ever. Over 800 registrants! And a highlight for everyone was the basketball scrimmage between the North Pole Nicks and the Harlem Wizards.
They Wore the Red Suit™
©2012, Power Plant Productions, LLC