Entries in Santa Claus (2)


Many Santas Are Now Ho Ho Ho-bese

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Adele Saidy, owner of Adele’s of Hollywood, has been designing custom Santa suits for St. Nick stand-ins all over the world for more than four decades.  And she’s seen some changes to the seasonal costumes -- big changes.

“They are getting larger and larger,” she said.  “Last year and this year, 25 percent of my Santas -- oh, I don’t want to say it -- they are really overweight.”

When Adele started out, the roomiest Santa suit she sold was designed to fit someone who weighed between 200 and 275 pounds with a girth of about 50 inches.  Now, she notes, very few of her customers need any extra padding to pull off the fat and jolly look.

The largest size she made this season fits someone who is 300 to 425 pounds and up to a 76 inch girth.  She filled six such supersized orders.

Other Santa suit sellers are noticing the same trend.

In 1996, the biggest outfit sold at was 2X, and sales of oversized suits accounted for just 12 percent of business.  Today, the company offers a 4X, and plus-sized outfits are a third of their business.  

An original 1948 pattern owned by Western Staff Services Company in California has expanded inch by inch until it now accommodates a St. Nick who exceeds 300 pounds and a 50-inch beltline.

Santa Suit Express, based in Loraine, Ohio, doesn’t even bother catering to slender Santas anymore.

“We sell thousands of Santa suits a year, and we don’t get too many requests for the smaller sizes,” noted Aimee Gibson, the company’s customer service happiness manager.  “Only a few skinnier Santas have called to complain.”

Santa Suit Express’ smallest size is a 42.  The professional, their biggest suit, can be purchased in a size 70, or XXXL.

Outfitting that extra large bowl full of jelly comes at a cost.  Saidy said her larger suits go for about $800.  Upsizing at Santa Suit Express adds $10 to $20 per size to the price.

“It takes lots and lots of extra fabric and hours and hours of extra work to make the bigger sizes, so the prices are much higher,” Saidy said.

Health experts are concerned that if Santa continues on with these “season’s growings,” he’ll no longer be able to squeeze through chimneys -- or fit in mall chairs.

Assuming Santas are like most of us, they gain about a pound each holiday season -- a pound that sticks with them long after their suits go back into the closet.  So a few decades’ worth of eggnog and candy canes can result in a pretty significant beltline.

Santas and other individuals who are already obese are the most likely to suffer from accumulated holiday cheer, research shows.  One Nutrition Review paper found that about 14 percent of overweight and obese individuals gain five pounds or more during the holiday season.

“Maybe he could get out of his sleigh and walk once in a while or at least do some butt squeezes or calf raises while he’s just sitting there to burn off a few extra calories,” said registered dietitian and certified personal trainer, Alysa Bajenaru, tongue firmly planted in cheek.

In all seriousness, Bajenaru recommended that anyone trying to keep holiday weight gain under control -- including Santa Claus wannabees -- should have a plan for keeping up a regular exercise routine and eating their favorite seasonal treats in moderation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


‘Sensitive Santa’ Meets Kids with Autism

File photo. Photodisc/Thinkstock(BLAINE, Minn.) -- A trip to the mall to sit on Santa’s knee is a special event for families, but the holiday hustle and bustle can be overwhelming for kids with autism. That’s why Northtown Mall in Blaine, Minn., opened its doors early Sunday morning for some low-key “sensitive Santa” time.

“A lot of children with autism aren’t able to have the experience of seeing Santa,” said Northtown’s marketing director Linda Sell, describing the typical bright lights, loud music and long line. “This is our way of helping.”

The mall dimmed the lights and lowered the music volume to make autistic children more comfortable. And instead of waiting in line, kids colored or walked around with their families.

“It’s something very small on our end but it means so much to families,” said Sell.

An illustrated pamphlet showed families what to expect during their visit -- a helpful aid for kids with autism who often rely on routines. And a form filled out by parents in advance gave Sensitive Santa the scoop on their wish lists.

“Its’ such a wonderful event,” said Sell. “It’s heartwarming to see the joy in the kids’ faces, and in the parents.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 10 children is on the autism spectrum.

More than 50 kids of all ages attended this year’s event. The mall spreads the word by sending flyers to schools and therapy centers.

“We will continue to do it because obviously there’s a huge demand,” said Sell.

Dr. Max Wiznitzer, a neurologist specializing in autism at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, said parents want their children to have the same opportunities as their peers.

“A visit with Santa is one of those things you expect to happen,” he said. “And why should the special needs population not have it?”

Some movie theaters now have special screenings for autistic kids. And Walt Disney World offers special passes that allow them to skip long waits in crowded lines.

“This is our culture recognizing that if the kids can’t fit into the template, the template has to fit the kids,” said Wiznitzer. “It’s happening more and more.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio