Disclaimer: The Santa Text referred to in this column is a statue — an animatronic version of Santa. The actual Santa was not harmed in the antics mentioned in this column.
Santa — or our Santa statue rather — is a bit of a legend at The Emporia Gazette.
Santa started his pranking adventures here at The Gazette a couple years ago after being stored upstairs. His adventures are always epic. Usually right around Halloween, Santa comes out to play — and the last two years he actually served (in costume of course) in the Gazette’s stop in the haunted tours.
This Santa figure stands approximately 4 feet tall and at one time was an animatronic but he doesn’t work anymore (probably from his antics here).
My first year back at the Gazette (after a two-year hiatus to do marketing and public relations work), was last year. This was the first year I met The Gazette’s Santa. Over the course of my time back at The Gazette, Santa has been delighting, scaring and pranking.
Santa has brought much joy to The Gazette the past couple of years and even paranoia. One of our reporters is wishing Santa would go back to the basement to be stored for another year. This reporter was caught off guard when Santa was in a random hallway after-hours. Anyone who has been in this old building at night, alone, would understand why a life-sized statue would scare. Old buildings creak and can be creepy enough without Santa lurking around.
Here is what Santa has been up to at The Gazette:
He has been hidden behind doors in the bathrooms, hallways and behind people working. There have been many screams as a result and I’m betting there are some grudges still being held as well.
He has been beheaded (again, please note he is a statue, not the real Santa) and placed in the refrigerator, on people’s desks, in desk drawers and probably many other places not mentioned in this column.
His head has been put on backward. Santa “Exorcist” anyone?
He was once locked in our publisher’s office so when Mr. Walker opened his office door, the first thing he saw was Santa. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to work early enough this day to see the reaction, but I heard it gave him a good scare.
He has been placed on desks, towering over people working (he sees you when you’re working … is that how it goes?).
He has been the center of photos, including selfies and was photographed with me earlier last week reading the newspaper. He, of course, was reading page two of the paper checking his naughty list.
On another note, I think this Santa figure is stalking some of us here at The Gazette — and we probably deserve it. I’ve seen an identical statue in multiple places outside The Gazette. I saw him at Museum of World Treasures in Wichita. (If you haven’t visited that museum, it’s a really neat place.) I also saw at least two identical Santas at Poehler Mercantile Antique mall in Emporia. Another Gazette staffer reported they saw another Santa like ours here — this time the animatronics were actually working.
Santa also has been spotted in a yard in the 800 block of Rural Street and inside Wal-Mart. It’s almost like he is letting us know he is watching us.
While our Santa antics make us laugh, the lesson here is deeper. Santa has taught us to not only laugh, but to lighten up during a stressful time of year. He provides a much-needed comical break from the craziness that comes along with the tinsel and holiday events. Christmas is indeed full of joy and cheer, but let’s face it, the season also is busier than much of rest of the year, and in many cases, more expensive. Any comical break from the hustle and bustle is welcome and therapeutic.
So, on these last few days of the Christmas season, don’t forget to smile, laugh and reach out to those in need or those who might be sad this time of year. While you may not use Santa to play pranks on someone, you can bring joy to someone in other ways such as a simple phone call, a few baked treats or a small gift. Each day is precious, so make it count.
Merry Christmas and thank you for being a part of my life by reading this column.