NORMAN — Kris Kringle, St. Nicholas, Father Christmas, Père Noël, Jolly Old Elf: No matter how you say it, one Norman resident has big boots to fill this holiday season.
Santa Opa Claus (his civilian name is withheld to protect his identity) began his transformation after he grew out his beard one year for No Shave November. After an acquaintance told him he looked like Santa, Opa Claus found an opportunity to transform himself into the beloved legend for his own grandchildren. Before he knew it, the festive metamorphosis was well underway.
“It’s kind of like the movie where you put on the suit and the reindeer know what to do,” Opa Claus said. “In looking into it and learning about being Santa, magic happens. And you get it.”
Now, Opa Claus is about to embark on his first season into the secret world of being a “Santa ambassador.” His new responsibilities include checking the naughty or nice list twice, caring for the reindeers, organizing the elves and handing out gifts. Of course, Opa Claus said it’s not as simple as it seems.
“It’s much more than just putting on a suit, anyone can do that. But a child will always be able to tell if you’re not being honest and you’re not being forthcoming with them,” Opa Claus said. “And once you learn what it is about the appeal of Santa, I think it’s easier. It’s just three basic things: It’s love, joy and kindness. That’s all it is. And that’s something we all strive for every day. And once you figure that out everything else just falls into place with it and it just becomes fun.”
When he makes visits, Opa Claus wears a deep red velvet suit — or crimson, Opa Claus does live in Norman —accented by white fur, gold buttons, a large black belt and spectacles. Opa Claus has to be on his A-game for every interaction with children.