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What it takes to be a Santa Claus stand-in

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Santa's Belt
Being a good Santa Claus stand in involves more than just putting on a red suit and a white beard.
Nikki Tundel | MPR News 2014

This story first aired in December 1995.

What does it take to stand in for Santa Claus? In 1995, then-"Morning Edition" host Bob Potter learned the answer from a professional.

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Mickey Michlitsch, owner of Santa Claus and Company in St. Paul, got Potter suited up, gave him a little training and then brought him to a preschool to meet some kids.

"Looks like we're going to need a little bit of padding, but that's going to be fine," Michlitsch said before fitting Potter with a fake belly, complete with a pouch to be stuffed as necessary.

Potter was also given a belt, beard and instructed in the proper way to "Ho ho ho."

"You want to remember that Santa's a little older, so you might want to lower your voice a bit, get a little gravelness in it, OK, when you're talking with the kids," Michlitsch said.

Another tip for any wannabe Santas: Don't go right to, "What do you want for Christmas?" Start with some small talk.

"'Oh that's a pretty ribbon you have in your hair!' Compliment them," Michlitsch said. "Try to stay away from talking about mom and dad, because there are a lot of single families right now."