Santa Claus came to town, many visiting Gulf Shores

Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 9:35 PM CST
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GULF SHORES, Ala. (WALA) - Santa Claus came to town this weekend, in fact, many did.

An organization called the ‘Cotton State Santas’ teaches men and women how to get in the Christmas spirit while portraying Santa and Mrs. Claus. Every year, they visit Gulf Shores in January. Some brave Santas and one Mrs. Claus braved some icy gulf waters, taking the polar plunge.

“It was just too windy for me, but it is a fun, exciting experience,” said Santa Jeff. “We had eight people go in, and a Mrs. Claus, which she was the first.”

Santa Jeff is one of many iconic men who proudly wear the red suit, but it’s no easy feat. From dress, to etiquette, and posing, he said there’s extensive training for everyone involved.

“When a child says, ‘I want my daddy back or my mom back,’’ we have a lot of training as far as the psychological goes on how to handle that.”

Santa Jeff said this group meets frequently across the state. Saturday at the Sunliner Diner, about 50 ‘brothers in red’ came out to fellowship, along with their Mrs. Clauses.

“It’s 100 percent a brotherhood, and it’s just a fabulous way for all of us to get together,” he said.

He said maintaining the beard takes a lot of patience and product.

“All our wives make fun of us,” said Santa Jeff. “We have more hair products than them. We all take a lot of great care in it. a lot of us curl our beards, curl our mustaches.”

The upkeep isn’t cheap. He said the Santa outfits are upwards of $1,000, depending how elaborate.

From boots to belt, he said it’s all worth it.

“Once you do it, and you realize you can bring that magic back to children for Christmas and remind them of why we celebrate Christmas, the Christian part of it, it makes everything to so wonderful to see that child smile,” said Santa Jeff.

He showed one of his favorite belt buckles of the nativity scene. He said he can’t see himself doing anything else.

“It must be from the heart,” he said. “You don’t feel any more blessed than when you work with the children. They come up excited and smile, and that’s what we do it for.”

For more information on becoming Santa, message this Facebook page.

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