Moose Jaw’s Roger Dickson has helped Santa Claus out for more than 20 years — almost half of that time at Regina’s Southland Mall.
Because Santa is extra busy leading up to the holidays and Dickson looks identical to the big guy, he stands in to collect kids’ Christmas lists in shopping malls, snapping a picture in the process with his wife and Mrs. Claus look-alike, Barb.
“Santa can’t be everywhere, so he needs helpers and I qualified — there was a test administered by the elves, and I passed,” Dickson said.
As for forwarding along children’s wish lists to Santa, he said it all comes down to modern technology.
“We have elves who are specifically suited for receiving emails and translating — sometimes the youngsters don’t spell that well, so it takes some interpretation,” Dickson explained in between chuckles.
“Then we go over the list and we make sure that they’re on the nice side, not the naughty side.”
When it comes to kids getting on the nice list, he suggested helping out around the house, doing well in school and being in the Christmas spirit.
“Before I came to the start of this season, I checked and, in Saskatchewan, there’s hardly anybody on the naughty list — including politicians, so that’s somewhat of a surprise,” he said with a smile.
Because he looks so similar to Jolly Old Saint Nick, Dickson said he frequently gets stopped — regardless of the time of year — to take photos with strangers.
“We were on a beach in Mexico once, and a couple came along and asked if they could have my picture,” he recalled. “When it happens one time and people see what’s going on, then all of a sudden there’s a big crowd. It’s quite remarkable.”
When asked why he first chose to put on the red and white suit to help Santa out, Dickson said: “I think it’s got to do with the children; any time you can put a smile on a child’s face, you’ve had a good day.”