Exclusive: we talk to Santa Claus

Exclusive: we talk to Santa Claus

Young Post talks to a man called Santa Claus (honestly!) who has taken to politics to help children around the world

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He's making a list, he's checking it twice, he's gonna find out who's vulnerable and in need of help: Santa Claus the politician at the North Pole post office.
Photo: Santa Claus

He has a big, white beard, wears red, lives in a place called North Pole, and tries to bring joy to children. This isn't the start of a festive short story: it's the profile of an American man named Santa Claus, who this year was elected to the council in the town of North Pole - slogan: "Where the spirit of Christmas lives year 'round."

While he doesn't actually travel by reindeer-drawn sleigh, Claus has modelled his persona on Father Christmas by legally changing his name, moving to the real-life US town in the state of Alaska (population: 2,200), and placing children's welfare at the heart of his political manifesto.

"I advocate for millions of vulnerable children in dire straits, including those who have experienced child abuse, neglect, exploitation, abandonment, homelessness, and institutionalisation," he tells Young Post.

Of course, Claus made headlines all over the world when he was elected in October, but he is using the press to his advantage - not by giving kids a new PS4 on one day in December, but by fighting for real change. And when the media gets involved, lawmakers tend to listen.

"I try to aim whatever attention I get from my name to issues I care about: child health, safety, and welfare, peace at home and abroad, and end-of-life issues," the councilman explains.

"Primarily due to my unusual name, I have managed to persuade United States legislators to support legislation that improved child health, safety, and welfare. Children represent, and actually are, our future and deserve to be nurtured and loved."

Before he was Santa, Claus was Tom O'Connor from Nevada, US, who grew a beard and dressed up as Santa over the holidays for charity before moving northwards and completing his transformation.

The 68-year-old has had an interesting life, and lots of other jobs - the most unusual of which was an "emergency response chaplain", offering religious support to those in need. This is when he realised he wanted to play a role in improving the lives of young people. "I recognised many children were falling through the cracks in the social services and health networks," he said of his time as a chaplain.

Claus advises young people looking to get into local politics to make the most out of social media, and a quick glance at his own Facebook page, which is filled with inspirational quotes, shows the new Alaskan councilman is regarded as a hero by his 300,000 followers.

The fans aren't the best part about "being" Santa Claus, he says. "It's the happiness and goodwill I am able to share with others and the access it affords me to legislators … regarding issues that affect children of all ages."

While 2015 has been a great year in so many ways, it has also been a challenging year for many people around the world. Even so, Claus sees keeping a naughty list as counterproductive. "I try not to be very judgmental and have an aversion to placing people's names on lists. Instead, I support the concept that we are supposed to achieve a balance in life," he says. "Our future should include peace. If we would like to achieve international peace, we first must instil peace and love within the heart of each and every child throughout the world."

Which things are top of Santa's own requests this holiday? "As always, I pray for happiness, peace, good health, prosperity, and, most of all, love throughout the year."

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Serious side to Santa Claus

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