MERRIMACK, N.H. (WBZ NewsRadio) — The group of jolly bearded men gathered for their weekly breakfast in Merrimack, New Hampshire Thursday morning were only a small sampling of the 150 member-strong New England Santa Society.
They're professionals—an organized chapter of the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas, or IBRBS—and with many of them booked for "Christmas In July" events next week, it's no exaggeration that, for them, it's Christmas all year.
"We have background checks, we carry insurance, and go through training," founding member Dan Greenleaf told WBZ NewsRadio's Karyn Regal. "We have some that are trained as hospice, so they can actually go into hospice and help."
The group holds an August training camp to teach Santas, Mrs. Clauses, and elves. They are taught how to approach the elderly, the sick, the scared, and the disabled.
They also have to do research on the hot toys of the season, as well as a lot of beard work. Real beards are encouraged, but Santa Jack shared a secret:
"A good designer beard could cost a person $1,000," he said.
"I have more hair product at home than my wife does," another Santa chimed in.
The Santas get work year-round at office parties, hospitals, nursing homes, private parties, and more; only one of the Santas at the breakfast meet-up was a mall Santa.
Santa Norman says the goal of all the members is simply to spread joy.
"If you live like it's Christmas, you're always going to have peace and happiness in your heart," he said.
WBZ NewsRadio's Karyn Regal (@Karynregal) reports