Santa was played by a paunchy Bulgarian acrobat. He had no idea who Santa was, so when he was asked by the show's director to exhibit some hearty holiday spirit he could think of nothing better to do than to bellow "Hello dere!" to all the excited children.
One of the oddly lovable aspects of the circus is the way they can incorporate any figure from fairy tale or myth into their grand parade and have the audience accept it enthusiastically. When I worked as a beginning clown with the Ringling Brothers Blue Unit in 1972, we had Santa Claus atop an elephant, riding jovially around the arena waving with mittened hand at the crowd during the hottest July anyone could remember. No one seemed to think this at all strange, or out of season. Santa with the circus? Where else would the old gentleman spend his summers?
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