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Confessions of Three Hired Santas

What does Amy Grant want for Christmas this year?

How did one Santa answer a little girl who asked him for a father?

Which Santa was snickered at by a room full of children after a Ziploc bag full of ice - that he stuffed in his suit to keep cool - melted, making him look like he wet his pants?

Good boys and girls want to know. And since the real Santa is busy at the North Pole, we turned to three hired Santas to share their comical, touching and sometimes-cheerless confessions.

Santa Paul

Question: What are some cute questions that the kids ask you?

Answer: They always want to know where the reindeer are. I explain that the reindeer get fat from feeding on grass all summer and they have to spend December exercising and getting in shape. So, they're too busy to be with me.

Q: What are the hardest requests to answer?

A: In the last two or three years, I've gotten a lot of kids whose fathers are in the military. "Bring Dad home from Iraq" is a pretty tough one. I've also heard, "Get Mom and Dad back together" and "Fix Grandma's cancer."I tell them I wish that I could, but unfortunately that's outside the scope of my magic.

Q: Does Santa ever have any bad experiences?

A: Out of my seven years, only one time have I been peed on. He was a nervous 4- or 5-year-old. . . . That's a great fear because I only have one suit.

Q: What do you say to kids who ask for really expensive toys?

A: I have to be careful with that. The game machines have been popular for several years. I get a lot of requests for Nintendo DS. Wii is still popular. I explain that I will do my best, but I have very limited supplies and lots of orders.

Q: Who have been some of your most challenging visitors?

A: One night I had two 50-pound basset hounds that smelled pretty bad.

Q: What do you do when children ask for things that they're not allowed to have?

A: I had a 9-year-old boy who wanted a German shepherd puppy. His parents had already told him that he couldn't have one, but he was absolutely confident that I was going to fix everything. . . . I told him, "We just have a toy shop. We can't make animals." He started to cry.

Q: What are some of the over-the-top requests that you hear?

A: One little girl asked me for a magic wand. I told her I was very nervous because I was afraid she might turn her Momma into a frog or something. I told her I wasn't sure enough she was old enough for it yet.

Santa Ollie

Q: Do kids ever ask for presents for others instead of themselves?

A: I took part in the Appalachian Angel Outreach Program in Corbin, Ky. The children are permitted to pick out presents for their brothers and sisters at no cost. I had a boy who wanted his dad to find some glasses so he could get a job. A little girl wanted her mother to have teeth because hers were nonexistent.

Q: Do you have any grandkids? Do they believe in Santa?

A: I have a 6-year-old granddaughter. If there's another Santa, she'll say, "No, that's an imposter. My granddaddy is Santa Claus." She'll even fight other kids about it.

Q: Have any celebrities climbed on your lap this year?

A: Amy Grant. She just wanted her children to be happy.

Q: Tell me about a visit you made that you'll never forget.

A: I was visiting patients at St. Thomas Hospital. A nurse came up to me and said that there was an elderly patient who wanted to see Santa one more time before he died. I remember he started to cry.

Santa Don

Q: What is the most touching request you've ever heard?

A: I had a little girl ask me for a father for Christmas. She said, "I don't want any presents. I want a father." She was as serious as a heart attack. I just hugged that little girl so hard. I would have adopted her right then and there if I could have.

Q: How do you stay cool in your Santa suit?

A: Sometimes I put a Ziploc bag full of ice under by my hat to keep cool. One time, I guess it must have melted and leaked down my back. When I got up, the back of my pants were all wet. The kids were all snickering and laughing.

Q: What do the kids of celebrities ask for?

A: Alan Jackson's little girl didn't ask for anything extravagant like a pony or anything. She just wanted some art supplies.

Q: What's your favorite part of the job?

A: Seeing the kids get so excited. They'll just jump up and hug me.The other day this little girl charged me. I fell down on the floor just for the fun of it.

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