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Santa in a Bubble
Santa looks over his naughty and nice list on Ketchum's Main Street as he awaits visits from children.
Friday, December 18, 2020


The tiny tot stared at Saint Nick through the clear plastic snow globe.

As he read her name from his Nice Kids list, she reached out and touched her hand on the plastic that protected her from Santa and Santa from her.

It would be the closest she would get to Santa in a Year of COVID. But it meant that Santa cared enough, that he would not be AWOL, in this strangest of years.

Santa greets a group from Big Wood School.

Indeed, the jolly ol’ fella has set up residence inside his socially distanced snow globe in front of what used to be Rico’s Pizza on Ketchum’s Main Street.

“I can’t think of any place I would rather be than here,” he told a group of preschool children from the Big Wood School. “Ketchum is such a beautiful town. I don’t like to show favoritism, but the Sun Valley area reminds me of the North Pole.”

It was Mrs. Claus who thought of the protective cocoon of the Snow Globe, Saint Nick said. And, while it weighed down his sleigh coming to town, it has provided a comfortable dwelling for him in a year when he can’t pose for pictures with crying babies on his lap.

He’s outfitted it with a bright green throne and a Christmas tree decorated with new stuffed toys that his elves invented while quarantining during the early days of the pandemic when the world was locked down.

Santa's elves came up with a new line of stuffed toys, Christmas tree ornaments and coloring books featuring Randimals, or animal combinations.

The Randimals, hawked in a pop-up store behind the globe by Santa’s Ketchum rep Nick Harman, are a curious breed of animals. There’s a duck and horse comb named Huck, a gorilla-elephant combo named Elorilla, a zebra-kangaroo combo named Zangaroo, a dog-seal combo and more.

“We got the idea from my old dog Ollie, who is part basset hound and part lab,” Santa said. “We call him Ollie the A-Bassador.”

From his perch inside the globe Santa waves at a steady stream of passersby, his presence bringing a smile under face masks even to adults.

When school groups stop by, he pulls out a microphone to chat with them about things of the heart, his voice bearing a slight twinge of an English accent having binge-watched “Downton Abbey” and “The Crown” while sheltering in place.

The Randimals are inhabiting part of the former Rico's Pizza building through Dec. 30.

One morning this week Saint Nick took out his cellphone to take a pictures of the youngsters huddled around the snow globe, telling them that he was going to send the picture to Mrs. Claus. Then he had each child tell his or her name via a cellphone their teacher held.

“It gets hot in here. Santa’s going to lose weight over the next couple weeks,” he said, reminding them to set out cookies and milk on Christmas Eve.

When one little boy asked him which present he likes best, Santa paused, his eyes crinkling in a twinkle underneath his white locks.

“The present I like the most is when everyone smiles. It’s hard to smile for Santa when you’re wearing a mask. But what you can do is give Santa a hug,” he told the children.

A group of children dressed in Santa caps surround Jolly Ol' Saint Nick as he sits in his bubble.

Eager to please, the children locked arms and pressed up against the globe.

“Now that’s a virtual hug!” Saint Nick said.

Dr. Fauci has cleared Santa as an essential worker, enabling him to make his around-the-world journey on Christmas Eve. After that, Santa and his trusty reindeer may get a gig flying vaccines around the world which, Saint Nick notes, may be the best Christmas gift of all this year.

But, in the meantime, he’ll be in his snow globe at 5 each night to greet the little ones—and their parents who, he remembers, were once young’uns themselves.

“This year, more than ever, it’s important to spread holiday cheer!” he said. “Ho, ho, ho!”





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