November 29, 2016 7:45 pm
Updated: November 29, 2016 7:49 pm

Alberta’s tough economy sees spike in number of Santa School students

WATCH ABOVE: Alberta’s recession is having a profound impact on certain industries. While some flounder, others are thriving during the downturn. The young and unemployed are now finding a special kind of Christmas joy in a new career path. Jill Croteau explains.

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The economic downturn is quite literally changing the face of Kris Kringle. With unemployment rates at an all-time high, many laid-off workers are taking the opportunity and turning to an entirely new profession.

“We are seeing an influx of younger Santas,” Jennifer Andrews says.

Andrews runs Calgary’s Santa School and  says she has seen an increase in recruits in their 30s and 40s.

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“I am definitely seeing the occasional one saying, ‘I’ve been a professional all my life and I took a package and now I can do what I really want to do.'”

Santa Claus needs help from representatives around the world during the demanding holiday season. He can’t be everywhere, so this year, he’s been able to send this new kind of trainee to his Santa school.

This is 40-year-old Matt Slocombe’s first year as jolly old Saint Nick.

“Funny enough, I always pictured my hair white and my beard white,” he says.

Slocombe says he is honoured to take on the responsibility and is committed to the character.

“I’ve had a lot of roles and this one… is just me. AlthoughI do need to practice my ‘ho ho hos!'”

Slocombe is busy during the summer months but discovered he needed something to do in the winter season.

“Most recently, I’ve been working for the Municipality of Foothills as a seasonal public works guy,” Slocombe says. “Jack of all, master of none.”

 

40-year-old Matt Slocombe embraces new role

Jill Croteau

Slocombe’s Santa transformation is about as authentic as it can be. He has big boots to fill. His father Bob has been putting the suit on year after year.

“It is an honour to have (the) support of my father,” he says. “Anytime you put the suit (on) there’s a certain expectation.”

Andrews insists the younger Santas will help the longevity of Santas, allowing them to appear at events year after year while making memories with many generations.

 

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