There's a Santa shortage just weeks before Christmas
Santas are in short supply this year.
HireSanta, a Texas company that books Santa Claus actors for appearances across the country, is seeing fewer Santas available to spread holiday cheer, according to CEO Mich Allen.
There’s been a 121% increase in demand for the jolly performers this year — but there are 10% fewer St. Nicks during the pandemic.
Allen attributed that drop in supply to entertainers being at high risk for COVID-19: performers tend to be older and living with obesity, both of which increase the risk of severe illness.
“There are still Santas that are not comfortable getting out being around people because they are at a higher likelihood of a negative outcome if they do get COVID," Allen said.
Allen, who also serves as “head elf” of HireSanta, says some of his contractors have died from COVID.
"Over 130 passed away just this year, and we suspect it to be much more than that,” Allen said. “And that's not including the ones that we lost last year.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, older unvaccinated adults are more likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19. People 65 and older who received both doses of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines showed a 94% reduced risk of COVID-19 related hospitalization.
Not every Kris Kringle is sitting out the season. Charlie Crady and his wife Meg, with LoneStarSantas.org, have been portraying Santa and Mrs. Claus since 1987.
Business hasn't slowed down for them.
"Last year we thought we were going to have a slow year because of COVID and it turned out to be our best year,” Charlie Crady said. “People were so fed up.”
He mentioned the couple joined 45 events last year. This year they’ll have 40, and in recent weeks have turned down as many as 15 opportunities.
But although business is steady for the couple, Crady said he knew a number of performers who have since passed away from COVID.
"In the last two years, I would say, at least four or five Santas that I know in the group and several Mrs. Clauses have passed away,” Crady said. “And it bothers me. But doing Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus for Meg and I is a ministry."