Santa's Magic Zooming into Homes
The Y schedules virtual calls with old Saint Nick
By Chris Pietsch
You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I'm telling you why,
Despite a worldwide pandemic, Santa Claus is still coming to town.
On Zoom, for goodness sake.
“Back in March my co-workers and I were thinking about hosting a Y Santa this year, but then tabled it in the face of COVID protocols,” said Mrs. Claus, aka Holly Anderson, the youth development director at Eugene Family YMCA.
“Then one day, kind off the cuff, we said, ‘Maybe we can pull off a Zoom Santa?’”
A group of elves were quickly assembled, computer software installed and before you can say, “He knows when you've been bad or good,” Santa Visits by Zoom was born.
As it turns out, a camera-ready Santa was hiding in plain sight. “I started growing a beard back in mid-March when quarantine became a thing,” said Santa Claus, aka Corey Anderson, who has a day job as the athletic director at Bushnell University and was conveniently quarantining with Mrs. Claus when the idea was hatched.
“The white beard was my whole résumé,” he exclaimed.
Santa knows first hand how challenging this year as been for everyone. He lost his father to Parkinson's disease in July and with athletic events on hold he has not been able to get into a gym with his students much this fall.
“We have all lost something this year and we are all dealing in our own ways,” Mrs. Claus said. “I think he (Santa) needed to be happy. I feel like we all need this,” she added.
Santa has participated in a lot of Zoom meetings in his day job at the university, but found a few unexpected challenges.
“I had a hard time making the keyboard work with white gloved hands,” he admitted. Fortunately, Mrs. Claus has been able to step in as the information technician as needed, running the virtual calls from her nearby office. The couple have done as many as six calls in an evening.
The Y is running two shifts to meet the requests. They are scheduling sessions from now until Dec. 16.
“The kids get 10 solid minutes with me,” Santa said. In addition to learning what is on each child’s Christmas wish list, the children tell Santa what healthy snacks they are going to leave the reindeer and provide him with information about where best to land his sleigh. He has gotten to see cartwheels performed, has been taken on virtual tours around the home and been introduce to a lot of pets.
“I do a lot of listening,” he admitted.
During one call a young skeptic asked Santa if he was the real thing? Doubt was put to rest as he watched Old Saint Nick fan out his long white beard on the screen. “The kid got so excited he started shaking and jumping up and down,” Santa said.
“When I finish up for the day, my face hurts from smiling,” he said, adding, “This Zoom Santa thing may have a future!”
If you would like to schedule your own Zoom visit with Santa email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.eugeneymca.org/calendar/santa-visits-zoom.
There is no cost to schedule a virtual visit with Santa; however, the Eugene Family YMCA invites people to consider making a donation to support its 2020 Annual Campaign if the holiday spirit inspires you.
Contact photographer Chris Pietsch at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter @ChrisPietsch and Instagram @chrispietsch. Want more stories like this? Subscribe to get unlimited access and support local journalism.
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