The “Real” Santa Claus

There are a great number of people from “up north” who traverse the distance from their Northern homes to spend the Winter lounging under sunny, blue skies in lovely Southwest Florida. Cape Coral and Fort Myers definitely have its fair share of those travelers that we locals lovingly refer to as “snowbirds.”

We all know that Florida depends on the annual migration of snowbirds every year, but what most folks don’t realize is that SWFL is home to one of the most famous and well-known couples in the world…Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Yes, you read that correctly. If you think about it, this should not be a surprise. It’s understandable that those from up in the higher elevations would like to escape winter’s cold, wind and snow.

They come down to avoid the nuisances of shoveling snow, scraping frost, fighting icy or snow-packed roads, etc. The warmer weather also boasts the appeal of numerous health benefits, not the least of which is that cold and arthritis aren’t good bedfellows.

Yes, Minnesota, Montana, New York and others have some brutal winters. No one can deny that. However, there’s a place further north that has even more brutal cold conditions. That place is the North Pole! And who is it that we all know lives there? Well, Santa and Mrs. Claus, of course. Who would have more of a reason to escape to the warmer climes than them?

Santa, himself, is a pretty rugged old elf. Flying south for the winter was more the idea of Mrs. Claus. Her arthritis “hurts something fierce,” she says as she places a batch of cookies on the table, fresh out of the oven.

“Santa does love his cookies,” she adds, wiping her hands on her apron which just happens to be adorned with mistletoe and candy canes.

She then took her place, seated next to Santa and rested her aged, yet supple hand comfortably on his arm as they told the story of their decision to become snowbirds.

Santa said they had talked about it for many decades. He argued how hard it would be to attend to his Christmas duties without being right there in the North Pole. However, even he couldn’t argue with the advent of recent technology. Mrs. Claus convinced Santa that it would be completely possible and even practical to head south. That’s when the pipe dreams became plans.

The next part was deciding where to move. Of course, they could choose anywhere in the world, but in the end, it was mutually decided that Florida would make the most sense. It’s still easy enough to get back home, if and when it became necessary.

Add to that the commonality of snowbird migration making it easy to blend in and, well, the rest is history, as they say. It was the most likely place for them to go unnoticed and not draw unnecessary attention.

They actually came here to scout locations about 12 years ago. The Claus’ settled into a cozy apartment that first year, just to give it a trial run. “We figured it was best to test the waters before plunging in, head first,” Santa said with a twinkle in his eye, as he popped the last bite of his cookie into his mouth. It went so well that they bought their own home away from home, shortly thereafter.

In keeping with the Florida spirit, Santa decided he would trade in his sleigh (at least while he is down here) for a more conventional mode of transportation.

We have all heard the stories, seen the drawings, and know that Santa is a big fan of traveling quickly and in the open air, with the wind on his face. For him, the next best thing to the sleigh, which is not at all practical in Florida, was to buy a motorcycle.

So, very soon after their arrival, Santa and Mrs. Claus headed off to a local motorcycle dealership to bring home his Florida ride.

Mrs. Claus says she worries about him while he’s off “gallivanting about the countryside,” as she calls it, but adds that “if it puts a smile on his red-cheeked little face, it’s worth it.”

She adds that “he brings so much joy and happiness to so many people around the world, he really deserves a bit of pampering himself.”

Slowly, but surely, Santa has been embracing advancing technology. Last year, some of the elves were finally able to talk Santa into jumping on the social network bandwagon.

With the help of a local photographer, here in Cape Coral, he now has his very own Facebook page. His right-hand-elf and head of publicity emphatically convinced him that he needed to enter the current day and age, stating that “anyone who’s anyone has social media accounts, nowadays.” As of now, he has almost 70,000 followers as The Real Santa Claus, @OldKrisKringle on Facebook.

Though the Christmas season keeps him busy and he has a hectic schedule with going back and forth to the North Pole for toy planning and production, he does make some time for photo opportunities, special deliveries, appearances at holiday gatherings, etc. Be sure to follow him on Facebook to find out more. Until then, Santa and Mrs. Claus wish you the happiest of holiday seasons. See you on the nicelist…hopefully!