Life

Behind The Scenes At The World’s Largest Santa Convention

Oh, so THIS is how Santa spends the off-season!

It’s August, and Christmas is still several months away (unless you shop at Costco).

Now, we all know that Santa has a pretty sweet gig. He works one night a year. Sure, it’s a pretty intense trip—his sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, or 3,000 times the speed of sound. However, Santa’s a pro. Been doin’ it for years. But where does Santa go to chill out, away from those pesky elves? Branson, Missouri, of course.

Discover Santa was held in July with hundreds of Santas (and Mrs.Clauses too) in attendance. No word on Rudolph, though.

This event is totally about these Santas networking and trading stories. And doesn’t it touch your heart just a bit? Santa is so symbolic of a simple time in life. When it wasn’t so… hard. You woke up on December 25, ran into the living room, and there it was: A glittering landscape of treasures (glittering due to the aluminum trees of the period, no doubt) your tiny mind couldn’t grasp.

How did they get there? Santa, naturally.

It’s important to note the distinction between this Santa gathering and the well-known SantaCon events that take place around the world. While SantaCon attracts thousands of folks dressing as Santa and Mrs. Clause for a day, Discover Santa is a legitimate convention for those who work as Santa Claus during the holiday months.

There’s even a beard contest.

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My Santa Selfies/Facebook

And a Snowlympics competition.

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My Santa Selfies/Facebook

And a “Reindeer 101” course, natch.

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My Santa Selfies/Facebook

Writer Mary Meehan traveled to Branson this year to cover the event for National Geographic. In a quote via Mental Floss, she writes:

The average age of a Mr. Claus at Discover Santa 2016 is 62.5. Billed as the World’s Largest Santa Convention, the five-day celebration and trade show has drawn 750 Santa Claus impersonators from all over the United States to Branson, Missouri, a town in the Ozark Mountains that’s essentially like Las Vegas but with country music in place of gambling. Here, between the stifling humidity of southern Missouri and the air-conditioning of hotels, the Santas meet with vendors to talk about makeup, beard care, marketing, websites, and North Pole workshop sets—anything that can make them the best Santas possible. Because the life of a professional Santa isn’t easy… and it doesn’t come cheap.

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If you’ve ever wondered how Santa spends his summer months, well, now you know!

h/t: Mental Floss