For a decade, Mike Renfroe has portrayed Santa Claus complete with magic dust and stories
Published 7:06 pm Saturday, December 17, 2016
So what does a fellow do if he has an uncanny likeness to one of the most notable elves in the world? He doubles as Santa Claus of course. /// “I started to grow my beard longer after I retired, and my friends started calling me Santa, so I finally just gave in to it,” Mike Renfroe said.
For the past 10 years, the local resident has been suiting up for the season, and has even been spotted wearing a paired down version of his signature outfit during the warmer months of the year while on the golf course.
“I live my part all year long,” Renfroe said.
Renfroe said his first job as Kris Kringle was at the Vicksburg Mall, with venues expanding to include day care centers and private homes.
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One year, he said he was the jolly old elf for the North Park Mall in Jackson and that year visited with more than 3,500 children.
He described his experience in Jackson as a job instead of an opportunity to have fun and has since limited himself to smaller settings, where he can visit longer with the kids.
“I do it (play Santa) to create memories for children,” Renfroe said.
Some of those memories he recalled are when he was convincing enough to make even the keenest child believe.
“It’s always great when you answer their questions, and they are satisfied with the answer and walk away thinking you are real,” Renfroe said.
This is especially satisfying to him, he said, when it is a child who is on the verge of not believing.
“Those always want to know how I get in the house and how do I get to all the houses,” he said, which of course is achieved by using magic fairy dust.
“The blue dust manipulates time, so I can get to all the houses. The green dust teleports more toys to my bag, the yellow dust is how I get into the houses and the red dust makes the reindeer fly,” Renfroe explained, adding he loves telling children stories about his fairy dust and talking to them about all of the reindeer.
In an effort to make sure he is fulfilling his mission as Santa, Renfroe said he participates in conventions that focus on all things St. Nicholas, and he is a member of the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas.
And when visiting with children, he wears authentic looking garments, he said.
“My Santa suits come from Adele’s of Hollywood. She is famous for making custom Santa suits,” he said.
They make a “heck of a statement” when walking into a room, he said.
Portraying Santa is a responsibility Renfore said he takes seriously whether he is in full regalia or just plain street clothes.
“You can’t be a dirty Santa,” he said, and to follow through with his persona, when out in public, Renfroe said he refrains from drinking alcoholic beverages in open view of children, and if he is at a restaurant and a child recognizes him, he makes sure he gives them a card that reads, I met Santa.
This dedication to the man from the North Pole is something Renfroe said he must have learned at an early age, because his father also played Santa.
“I think he would be pleased that I followed in his footsteps.”