On the job: Gary Brasco—er, we mean Santa Claus

Santa impersonator Gary Brasco tells us what it’s like to play the dude in the big red suit—and how best to deal with grinchy folks during the holidays

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South Street Seaport's Santa Claus

South Street Seaport's Santa Claus Photograph: Filip Wolak


Most days, Gary Brasco is a project manager and sometime actor; but for the past 20 years, he’s also moonlighted as Kris Kringle. Recently, he stepped into Santa’s big red suit at South Street Seaport for its November 29 tree lighting.

What makes you a good Santa Claus?
My white beard and chortle come from 32 years of happy marriage to Mrs. Claus.
Plus, I have a stockpile of Dramamine to handle the sleigh rides. Seriously, I
think good Santas have great childhood memories and a desire to provide that for others—the smile on kids’ faces is worth more than gold.

Have you seen your share of both naughty and nice children?
There are some kids that are totally horrified [by me]. One boy decided he couldn’t make it to the bathroom, and that Santa was a good alternative to the toilet. And then you have the lollipops getting stuck in the beard. But you also get the heartwarming stuff, like when a little girl asked me if I could cure her sick brother.

How do you like being the center of attention?
I have a little one; when it’s between him and me, I lose out every time. It’s good to be the king now and then, even if it’s only once a year.

What’s it like to wear the suit?

Hot and sweaty. I don me now all that itchy apparel.

HIS HOLIDAY TIP: How does Brasco deal with stressed crowds? “Just smile, go ‘Ho ho ho’ and ring a bell—and watch people stop in their tracks.”


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