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Profile: Santa Claus, planning an Island stopover

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO Santa Claus making his annual appearance at the Shelter Island Historical Society’s Havens House.
Santa Claus making his annual appearance at the Shelter Island Historical Society’s Havens House.

Santa Claus is good at asking personal questions, like “Have you been a good boy?” and “What would you like for Christmas?”

It was his turn to answer questions when, fresh from his duties at the Shelter Island Historical Society Holiday Open House, we caught up with him. Santa agreed to an interview with the Reporter about his work, his life and his unique perspective on Shelter Island.

With a beautiful beard as white as, yes, snow, and a red fur-trimmed suit (faux fur, no polar bears were harmed), Santa is the rare winter visitor to Shelter Island, a place he loves as much as the good boys and girls of the Island.

“The extended Claus family has been familiar with Shelter Island, as with every community and outpost in the world, since the ice cap retreated many years ago,” he said.

To put it mildly, this is Santa’s busiest time of year. In the weeks leading up to December 25, he receives the wishes and dreams of children all over the world, and then in one magic night, delivers on them. Without benefit of fossil fuels.

He’s holding up well. His legendary beard would put a Brooklyn hipster to shame. He boasts the “big man” agility of Jackie Gleason and the grace of C.C. Sabathia when he springs to his sleigh.

Santa’s forebears hailed from North Pole, Alaska, and North Pole, New York. He lives now at the magnetic North Pole, where he and Mrs. Claus have raised a large family. Their offspring include, he said, “numerous potential Santas.”

Santa travels all over the world on his yearly rounds, but admits to being particularly fond of the Island. He described it as “one of our preferred communities, isolated, Internet-savvy and diverse.”

Several practical reasons make Shelter Island a welcome destination for Mr. Claus, such as the high quality of cookie baking and the condition and capacity of chimneys. “When the inlets ice up, they provide great landing sites for the sleigh,” he added.

Santa cites the Island wildlife as a draw for his team, the reindeers Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph. “There appear to be more deer on Shelter Island per acre than a lot of other communities,” he noted.

“The deer on the Island are particularly attracted to our reindeer.”

In recent years, Santa has made good use of sophisticated tools to spread holiday cheer. “We increasingly rely on social media for information as to what sorts of gifts would be most appreciated by each and every child in the world,” he said. “We use 3D printers to produce gifts en route, and our extended family makes the whole operation feasible and efficient.”

Like other workers, Santa said his helpers must keep up with the latest technology. “We did have a computer failure a number of years ago,” Santa said, “Happily our cadre of elves rectified it.”

Santa pointed out that in order to do his job, he must “see you when you’re sleeping and know when you’re awake.” This requires deployment of a domestic surveillance program that makes the National Security Agency look like pikers.

“It’s increasingly difficult to determine where each and every deserving child actually is, in order to provide the best possible service,” said Santa. “A seasonal community, such as Shelter Island, requires continual monitoring of Internet and cell phone chatter so that duplication is eliminated.”

This Jolly Old Elf is already thinking about ways to improve the making and delivering of toys to good girls and boys in the coming year. He said, “We plan to integrate our information systems with production facilities to continue to provide the best worldwide coverage in the most efficient manner possible.”

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Jim Pugh of the Shelter Island Historical Society who is one of Santa’s most diligent Island helpers.