Yesterday I spent a couple hours at the Great Lakes Science Center. With Santa Claus.
Matt started working at SecureState back in April, and a couple weeks ago, when they brought up the charity effort of the holiday season, he volunteered to be Santa. I haven’t spent much time in the science center but I always have fun there, it’s more of a children’s museum than a boring-type museum and I’m pretty immature so it all works out well.
Transforming Matt into Santa Claus took a desperate twenty minutes with various padding experiments. Matt’s got the sparkling blue eyes, the red cheeks, the glasses, but other than that there’s really not much resemblance. The biggest problem was that the pillow thing doesn’t work. We tried four different pillows and they all created a square belly. Even the feather pillow. We were afraid we would have to let him go as a skinny Santa, and that would have been awesome because he looked more like the Grinch than anything, but eventually we managed a somewhat natural lump of fat using a towel for the belly and a scarf as man-boobs. He looked ok from the side, and while sitting, but the silhouette from behind was very decidedly NOT jolly enough. We did the best we could, and the kids young enough to believe in Santa didn’t seem to notice. Anyway, the red beard peaking out from the white was a much bigger giveaway, so I guess the uneaven towel fat wasn’t that big a deal.
When we got there, the rest of the SecureState group were setting up for the event. The room had a bunch of freaky science-y equipment up on a stage, which we hoped the kids would ignore, but Matt and I agreed must be some kind of super energy weapon for the REALLY naughty kids.
Since I didn’t quite know what I should be doing, I wandered around for a while trying to keep out of the way. I had a plan if any of the kids asked me who I was supposed to be. I figured I’d tell them that I’m half-elf. The pointy ears are recessive. Duh.
I think the plan was for all the kids to come in with their families and sit down and be called up, table by table, to get their food, their quality time with Santa, and of course, their presents. (And no, they weren’t creepy disfigured smily-faced children, that’s just my way of protecting the innocent and such.) Of course it didn’t happen that way, but eventually everyone settled down, and Matt seemed to be doing a good job Santa-ing. I mostly stayed on the other side of the room because I figured it would be weird for the kids if I accidentally called Santa “babe” or you know, kissed him. I mean, the fake beard was a pretty good reminder, but just to be safe.
After the presents were handed out, they actually had LIVE ENTERTAINMENT. Ok, so it was a pre-teen dance team, but they were actually very good. I’m not sure all the kids enjoyed it, because, yeah eight year old boys love nothing more than ballet, right? Many of the kids were too young to sit still and watch dancing, but I saw at least one group of completely enthralled girls, and, hey, I was pretty impressed.
The older group had serious skills, and the kids in the younger group were surprisingly good for their size (guessing 7-11 year olds) and TOTAL hams. They were adorable. Also, at one point, their music broke down and while it was being fixed they improvised with Christmas carols. They actually sounded good. If you’ve ever heard, or been in a children’s choir, you realize how completely unlikely that is.
The day seemed to go well. The kids all looked very happy and even the parents and organizers were far less harried than you would expect in an activity involving just under a hundred children. We’d planned to leave before everyone else in typical Santa style, and enjoy the museum for a while, but since Matt was sweaty, overheated, and you know, still Santa, we decided we’d wait it out and then go to lunch instead. Once the kids left I got to take my turn sitting in Santa’s lap. I got a little freaked out when I saw the photo because I look even younger than I usually do: I look more like just another one of the kids sitting on Santa’s lap than an adult being a smartass. I’m 27, I swear.