Meet Pune’s socially responsible ‘Santa Brigade’ that brings the real Christmas spirit alive
The new generation Santa Brigade doesn’t simply have a chubby Santa, but over the years, now, there is a Thin Santa who believes in eating right and spreads the word about obesity and Green Santa who is more about growing more trees and making the world a greener place.Updated: Dec 25, 2017 17:41 IST
Don’t be surprised if you come across an almost authentic Santa in the city. The may be a part of the Santa Brigade that has taken up the role of St Nicholas, commonly known as Santa, to keep the essence of Christmas real.
“Be chirpy and sing ‘Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells’ in your mind to be in the role,” said Hyacinth Arya, a corporate trainer by profession, as she trains five new Santas in the making. The new batch of Santa Brigade is training under her where Hyacinth tries to bring out the chirpy feeling in them as it is quite requisite among the children.
“Nowadays, children are more net savvy and know that Santa is not real. Hence, I have trained the performers to be closest to the reality that they are just standing in for St Nicholas,” she added.
Hyacinth came up with this idea of having a platoon of Santa Clauses, the initial stages of which had many road blocks as many did not want to pay for the performance and began saying that ‘Santa Clause gives gifts and balloons and comes free’. It did not deter her in the least bit.
She went ahead with a firm belief that someone had to stand in for St Nicholas and that will be herself for starters. As the concept and idea caught up, more people were convinced that this brings cheer and happiness to the children.
Santa Ronnie D’Souza, Robert Vaz , Trevor Braun , Santarine Jennifer, Arti, Vandana Vibhute and many more love to play this role and spread the feeling of joy during the Christmas season. “The reward of playing Santa is to see the joy on lit up faces of children,” said Jennifer.
The Santas begin their training in October and into November end till all interested candidates are sure of the dos and don’ts. The Santa Brigade boasts of 50 Santas, both men and women, who are excited and eager to don the role of St Nicholas. Santa’s attire has no let downs as it remains authentic and is stitched, laundered and also disinfected.
“Performance must be limited to 15 to 20 minutes. Each performer is expected to ensure their safety, ethical behaviour, keep up the cheerfulness and retain the belief, thrill and excitement,” said Hyacinth.
Hyacinth is also the one to begin Santarine as a concept where women got into the role of performing with or without the beard. “This helped bonding with kids who are afraid of the white beard,” she added.
She now also hires out the costumes to interested parties, but ensures they know the art of wearing and retaining the magic. She has customised the costume and accessories, as children tend to try to explore the real performer. “The children are very inquisitive and demanding. So each performer has to have a lot of patience and tact,” she said.
The new generation Santa Brigade doesn’t simply have a chubby Santa, but over the years, Hyacinth has introduced the Thin Santa who believes in eating right and spreads the word about obesity, and Green Santa who is more about growing more trees and making the world a greener place.
First Published: Dec 25, 2017 17:40 IST