Vince Morvatz has played a number of characters, but his Santa Claus role has taken him all over the country. The Akron resident worked as a singing telegram actor for decades, but decided three years ago to add the jolly old elf to his repertoire.
Morvatz has been to a number of different states donning the red suit, and in fact is currently working in a new mall in the Bronx area of New York City. “It’s kind of a new experience,” he says. “I get to see that part of the country and spend six weeks there that I wouldn’t do otherwise.”
But playing Santa isn’t always gumdrops and candy canes. When he went to Florida, he battled 85-degree weather while wearing the big red suit.
“Actually I didn’t think I’d like the kids, but the kids grew on me,” admits Morvatz. And the children make unique requests, like one girl who wanted a lava lamp, and another who asked him to get a bag of presents for all the homeless children.
Morvatz is part of an association called Buckeye Santas, which boasts real beards and a high level of professionalism. “There are about 150 guys all over the state, and they work either independently or as mall Santas,” he says. “There’s a pretty big division in the Santa community. A lot of guys do it because it’s good money for the holidays. You can make a nice chunk of change working for about two months. But a lot of Santas do it because they don’t want any money. They just want the joy of Christmas and go into nursing homes and visiting daycares and doing things for churches.”
It’s taken Morvatz about two and a half years to grow his beard. And his hair is naturally darker, so he needs about eight hours of treatment at a salon to achieve the white hair-white beard look of the typical Santa. “I see these guys who have full white glossy beards naturally and they’re very fortunate.”
Morvatz, 54, will sometimes suggest to other white-bearded gentlemen that they may be a good fit for Santa, especially those who are retired. “If you’re retired and you’re sitting around doing nothing for two months, it’s good money.”
But assuming the role of Santa has a distinct benefit. “The joy of children is really the joy of Christmas,” says Morvatz. “It’s really about giving and about keeping family and the memory of Christmas alive.”