I arrived early to the Recreation Center. I wanted to make sure I had a chance to look at the "Santa suit" and discover where I was supposed to be and when. It was kind of weird to hear the Recreation Staff greet me with, "Santa's here! Hey, Santa!" even though I wasn't yet wearing the suit. I kept looking behind me and side to side thinking, "Dude! you're giving away my secret identity!"
I greeted everyone and then touched base with my team from Compass, to make sure that everything on our side of things was set. They were ready to go - Compass Church Lanyards for team members, Hot Chocolate ready to be prepared and served, sign up sheets and flyers for our Parents' Shopping Day Out ready to be distributed (more on this later).
With my mind set at ease by thoughts of my team nestled snuggly in their posts, visions of sugarplums started dancing in my head as I started to make the transition into the right jolly old elf.
Mike, the Director of the Recreation Center, shared with me my "duties." He handed me a remote control for lighting the giant Christmas Tree, and began telling me what I was supposed to say. "Say?" I thought, "You mean I have to talk?" I had thought that I would just be riding on the back of a firetruck and waving at the crowd...
Basically, following the parade, I was to get everyone's attention with a bullhorn, welcome them to the Roanoke Recreation Center, do a little "Now have you all been good this year?" stand-up routine, and start the count down to the lighting of the Christmas tree, using the remote to turn on the lights at the magic moment.
The visions of sugarplums started dancing again, but this time with a few extra kicks to my stomach. That's when the sugarplums turned into Galadriel speaking very seriously to little "Frodo Santa Me" with the words, "This task has been given to you...and if you do not find a way...no one will."
If you've never worn a real Santa suit, it's quite an experience. Belts, fake boot tops, big red pants, abominable snowman wig and a fake beard that is impossible to keep out of your mouth. I felt like I was kissing a stuffed animal all night.
The time came for the parade to begin, and I had to be escorted to the little train that was going to take me and my "posse" to our places in line. I hadn't had a chance to really meet the posse beforehand, but they were a reindeer, a snowman, a big gingerbread man, and a walking Christmas Tree.
On our way out the door, the staff said, "Wait, let's get you all together for a photo by the Christmas Tree before you head out." We posed like for pictures at Grandma's, and they put me in the middle. After the photo was taken, the Reindeer turned to me in an anguished voice and said, "You're standing on my foot!"
I apologized profusely on our way to the little train and thought, "Oh no, now the Reindeer hates me and doesn't have my back..."
And so it began.
(to be continued...)