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Archive for Thursday, July 27, 2006

At summer convention, Santas agree presents should be bigger

July 27, 2006

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— Singing Christmas carols and bellowing ho-ho-hos despite the 90-degree heat, dozens of jolly old elves ended the World Santa Claus Convention on a merry note Wednesday, voting to make Christmas presents bigger.

Many of the Santas sweated profusely while parading through an amusement park north of the Danish capital in their red-and-white suits.

Santas from the United States, Japan, Norway and Sweden line up backstage before making their entrance at a convention in Copenhagen, Denmark. Six months ahead of Christmas, more than 150 Santas gathered in Denmark for the annual World Santa Claus Congress.

Santas from the United States, Japan, Norway and Sweden line up backstage before making their entrance at a convention in Copenhagen, Denmark. Six months ahead of Christmas, more than 150 Santas gathered in Denmark for the annual World Santa Claus Congress.

"It is hot. One would even believe it was summer," one Danish Santa sighed under his fake beard before disappearing into a sea of St. Nicholases.

The event has grown from a local summer festival begun 43 years ago into an event that attracts Santas - as well as Mrs. Clauses and elves - from around the world. This year, a record 171 people from Scandinavia, Germany, Russia, the United States and Japan attended the convention.

The Kris Kringles competed in belly shaking chuckles and Christmas tree decorating. They cooled off with dips in the ocean between debates on topics such as whether Yuletide celebrations that emphasize Christmas Eve over Dec. 25 are acceptable.

"There is always something to learn from other traditions, habits and culture," said Scott Serafin, a Santa for the past 37 years in Buffalo, N.Y. "It's interesting to hear what others say when they talk with children."

Surprisingly, the vote to increase the size of Christmas presents was not unanimous - but no Scrooge was lurking among the Santas. Paradise Yamamoto, a Santa from Tokyo, simply missed the translation and raised his hand too late.

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