Will this be the year without a Santa Claus? Shortage of ‘helpers’ may make it a reality

ATLANTA — With just over three months until Christmas, Channel 2 Action News has learned that part of the season’s magic may be missing this year.

There’s a shortage of Santas.

Rick Rosenthal has been a “Santa’s helper” for 53 years and he runs a Santa Academy where he teaches the trade.

Classes had to be cancelled last year. And this year, the number of helpers is way down.

Rosenthal told Channel 2′s Berndt Petersen that it’s not a job, it’s an honor to be Santa’s Helper.

“You don’t have to have the beard. You don’t have to have the weight. You just have to have the heart,” Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal said for the second year in a row, COVID-19 is causing a Santa shortage.

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“It’s just been mounting up every year. This year it’s going to be worse. Our agency, which has hundreds of Santas, is already out of Santas for two days. They are weekend days, but we usually don’t run out of Santas until the middle of November on any day. We’re already out of Santas on two days,” Rosenthal said.

He told Petersen that some helpers are hesitant because of the delta variant. And sadly, some of them have passed away in recent months. COVID-19 was the cause.

Rosenthal said he hopes some younger helpers will step up and give Santa a hand.

“We’re really trying to get to where anybody who wants a Santa can have one. Santa can change people’s lives. He does every year,” Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal said steps will be taken to keep everyone safe.

No one sits on Santa’s lap with his agency. He said it’s the way it has to be. He just hopes there will be enough helpers to go around.

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