Followup: ‘Ex-Westwood Santa’ starts to reveal his plans

(2008 WSB photo of the former Westwood Santa)
As reported here earlier this week, Westwood Village is changing the way the center does Santa Claus photos. They’re adding days and hours – Santa will be there daily starting right after Thanksgiving. But they’re also changing the procedure, and the person. They are now contracting with Arthur and Associates, a longtime Seattle-based Santa-photo business, which charges for photos – after Westwood Village, for years, offered photos for free, provided you made a food-bank donation. Arthur and Associates told WSB they had asked the longtime WV Santa to work for them this year, but he declined. Then, in WSB discussions, news emerged that the longtime Westwood Santa just might emerge someplace else, and many expressed interest. We finally got a chance to talk with him today – and we have confirmation of at least one place he plans to be:

“Santa” makes it clear he has nothing bad to say about Westwood or the folks who will be handling the photos there this year. They offered to pay him, and let him work whichever hours he wanted to, he confirmed, while saying that’s just not the way he wanted to do photos.

He is a longtime West Seattleite who has been “Santa” during the holiday season for more than 15 years. And this isn’t the first time he’s decided to do things his way – he tells the tale of working two seasons as a Santa at Nordstrom, then quitting when they wouldn’t pay for his parking. He has fond memories of being one of the rare Santas with a “real beard.”

Ironically, he told us, Westwood used to have a “paid Santa” – but “they weren’t making any money, so they folded and said ‘no Santa’. My wife worked at Washington Mutual. Because I’d retired and grew a beard, everyone thought I’d be a great Santa. I never say no to my wife! So I went ahead and did it. I enjoyed it, did it every year.”

He says he’s pretty sure he’s going to wind up at a specific West Seattle business – but he wasn’t sure things were finalized, so urged us to check with that business before publishing details of that plan. We have phone and e-mail messages out to the business and haven’t heard back yet. Santa told us they were looking for a photographer to volunteer.

But we did hear this afternoon from Holy Rosary School teacher Mary Corrigan, who says “Santa” will be there for a morning on Saturday, Dec. 10th from 9:00am until 12 noon. (Santa revealed to us that he worked for years at Holy Rosary, and always enjoyed the fact that the kids didn’t seem to recognize him in the role of “Santa.”) Mary says, “We will not have a photographer, but folks can bring their own cameras. We will have a station set up inside the school hall where kids will get candy canes and parents can take their own photos, so long as they leave a canned good for the food bank.”

When we get confirmation of any place else this Santa will land, we’ll let you know. And of course, Santa already has gigs booked in West Seattle – the three traditional Hometown Holidays Sundays at City Mouse Studio and Store, with Donna Ryan Photography on December 4th and 11th, DIY photos on the 18th, plus Arthur and Associates’ photos all season long at Westwood.

Meantime, with a merry laugh – and a cellular connection on our end that just suddenly flew away like St. Nick and his reindeer – our conversation was over. And to all a good night!

27 Replies to "Followup: 'Ex-Westwood Santa' starts to reveal his plans"

  • Alki Resident November 18, 2011 (4:27 pm)

    I feel it’s pathetic that the new owners of Westwood should suddenly try and profit off of of all things Santa pictures.We’ve been taking my ever growing family for over 15 yrs to this same Santa at Westwood.Im able to afford my copies by the dozens at rite Aid and send them in my cards every year.I would donate food but turned to donating many,many toys after that and looked forward to this event each and every year.I think we West Seattleites should simply boycott Westwood for sometime and see if we’re heard.

  • Debbie November 18, 2011 (4:37 pm)

    Might just have to take the Lil Tyke out to see Santa, since I’ve been told this one is THE real Santa!

  • neighbor November 18, 2011 (5:43 pm)

    This is a great story, but I wish it was worded a little bit more carefully – kids are still young and wonderfully naive. They can read things on the internet even at a young age, and they still believe in the magic of Christmas.

  • WSTroll November 18, 2011 (5:51 pm)

    How dare Santa drive a car downtown instead of taking the bus or riding his bike. And attempting to get a local business to pay his parking expense! Shame on you, Santa. Shame on you!

  • lohoho November 18, 2011 (7:14 pm)

    I’m sad that Santa won’t be at Westwood village. All our photos for Christmas were extra special with the same Santa in them. We’ll be following him around for sure.

  • Unemployed elf November 18, 2011 (7:28 pm)

    Well I, for one, think the name “Arthur & Associates” sounds really Christmassy!

  • Bill V November 18, 2011 (7:28 pm)

    I feel sorry for the new owners of WV. They will be so sad when they wake up on Christmas morning, look in their stockings, and only find a lump of coal.

  • Sue November 18, 2011 (7:43 pm)

    neighbor, I would think that if a child was young enough to still believe in Santa, they’re probably also young enough to not be unsupervised on the internet.

  • sb November 18, 2011 (9:15 pm)

    Excellent!!! We have 11 years of the real Santa with our 2 kids in 5×7 frames. Thank you WSB for finding him so we can continue our tradition.

  • neighbor November 18, 2011 (9:33 pm)

    Sue, my child wasn’t unsupervised. We were reading the blog together. We saw a picture of Santa and got excited and wanted to read on . .

  • Alki Resident November 18, 2011 (9:46 pm)

    No different than hearing it at school.Can’t always shelter them from everything.My kids could care less if there were ten Santas in a row,they’re there to bring happiness and goodness to people.West Seattle families need to get the real dedicated 15 plus year Santa back along with a camera and show the big wigs of Westwood what we won’t tolerate.

  • Zoey November 18, 2011 (10:46 pm)

    Is there any way to get Santa’s email address or contact info WSB? My Girl Scout Troop was hoping to speak with him and see if we could arrange some Santa photos (possibly at the WS Market, donation only) as a fundraiser.

  • DBurns November 18, 2011 (10:51 pm)

    Alki Resident, just curious, who exactly are you hoping to punish by boycotting Westwood Village?

  • datamuse November 18, 2011 (11:13 pm)

    When I was a kid, our neighborhood Santa was my best friend’s dad. Sort of made me feel like I knew a secret. I never really believed in Santa Claus, though…

  • Harpie November 19, 2011 (10:17 am)

    I’ve known “Santa” most of my life, and I’m sorry to see him go from Westwood. Took my son there every year when he was young and have promoted his appearances there to friends with younger tykes than mine.

    I’m glad to hear that he’s decided to forgo the paycheck and stand by his principles on how he handles the gig. If he ends up somewhere else publicly, I hope WSB promotes it, as I will be sure to pass the news along to the parents I know who appreciate such a wonderful fixture in their holiday season.

    • WSB November 19, 2011 (11:29 am)

      Harpie – I still haven’t heard back from the business owner with whom “Santa” thought he would be partnering, and since he indicated the details might not have been firmed up yet, I didn’t want to mention it without the owner’s permission (which “Santa” suggested too). As soon as we have anything confirmed, we will definitely publish it. The “Holidays” page is up now and there’s an entire “Santa Photos” section – where we will also add any other one-offs (if anyone does a “Santa Paws” this season, for example) … see the tab with HOLIDAYS in red, beneath the sunset header on every WSB page – TR

  • Mary November 19, 2011 (12:42 pm)

    Just to clarify…the old Westwood Santa WILL be appearing at the Holy Rosary tree lot (there will be an indoor space set up for pictures) on Dec. 10th from 9 until noon :) It will be very fun and festive! Just bring your own camera and a canned good. I have a 5 year old myself and am thrilled that he will have his picture taken with the same Santa once again!

    • WSB November 19, 2011 (1:31 pm)

      That’s in this story…

  • Alki Resident November 19, 2011 (1:56 pm)

    Whiz-you don’t find that completely uncalled for?We all are clearly trying to keep tradition alive in West Seattle.YOU clearly need to be seen by somebody.

    • WSB November 19, 2011 (2:16 pm)

      (The comment to which Alki Res refers has been deleted.)

  • chris November 20, 2011 (6:17 am)

    Damn Westwood Village fat cats! I am thinking we should organize an “occupy Westwood” event. Let me know who’s in.

  • a parent November 21, 2011 (8:09 am)

    It seems to me the mature message to WV owners would be to quietly and calmly take your Santa business to where the previous santa is. For those that don’t care – like myself – go to WV for their new santa and ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS and think of those who can’t afford to even do this small holiday event.

  • RainyDay1235 November 22, 2011 (6:13 pm)

    Yay!! So happy.

  • Grandma November 23, 2011 (7:58 am)

    I remember taking my 2 grand daughters to see Santa at Westwood along with their Dad the girls were amazed when Santa called their Dad by his first name and asked if he had been a good boy this year! Your never too old to believe

  • donna November 25, 2011 (1:47 pm)

    So sad that the real Santa isn’t at WV anymore. I like the other parents/grandparents point is that the real Santa provided continuity for our little ones and we gave presents to the underpriviledged at the giving tree instead of paying premium $’s to a professional photographer. In addition we were able to take our own pictures, which the new place doesn’t allow. Please let all of us know where we can take our children to see the real Santa this year. He is greatly missed.

    • WSB November 25, 2011 (2:47 pm)

      Just got confirmation that he’s going to be at CAPERS in The Junction for do-it-yourself photo sessions (no professional photographer, so bring your own camera) starting next weekend. Look for an update in our next Santa story … and the info will be on our WSB West Seattle Holidays page shortly … TR

  • Cessa November 28, 2011 (1:50 pm)

    I didnt know of the change until we got there. My girls were all dressed up – I didnt even bring a wallet just bags of food to donate. No offense to the Santa but I truly felt hijacked. 23.00 for a 5 by 7 photo. Never again

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