WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Santa Claus' 2010 "State of the Pole" Address
In accordance with tradition, it is here, within the elegantly-constructed backdrop of Santa's Throne Room, that the legendary Jolly Old Elf, in his role as King Nicholas, personally greets those Mortals who, at the end of their alloted period of lifetime upon the Earth, have proven themselves to be brave, truthful and unselfish: the required criteria necessary in order to achieve permanent inclusion as a citizen of the Realm of Eternity.
King Nicholas and Queen Vivianne, seated upon two magnificently-upholstered Royal Thrones, were elegantly dressed in outfits befitting their regal station. King Nicholas' attire consisted of a fantastic, 14th-Century red-and-gold Baron's costume, topped by a fabulous roayl crimson cape with ermin trim. A long, fully-flowing, leonineseque white beard dominated his head; and the magnificent Royal Nicholean Crown rested comfortably upon his brow. Queen Vivianne's red-and-white gown was likewise topped by a royal crimson-and-ermine-trim cape; on her head, she wore the Consort's Crown of Eternity. In their hands, Their Majesties each wielded two priceless Royal Sceptres, both festooned with diamonds and pearls.
Finally, King Nicholas rose from his Throne, and a hush fell across the length and breadth of the crowd, as Santa Claus began his 2010 "State of the Pole" Address:
Greetings, fellow Believers and dear friends throughout the cosmos!
Once again, the time has come to share with the world the State of our glorious North Pole --- and believe me, 2010 has been so whirlwind that I barely know where to begin. The year began somewhat frighteningly, when it seemed as though a horrifying cloud of volcanic ash, emerging from an unexpectedly active volcano in Greenland might force our dear friends in the Earthly village of Klampenbourg to possibly cancel our annual gathering of Kringles, the World Santa Claus Congress. Fortunately, I am happy to report to you, Mother Nature decided, in her unchanging wisdom, that she simply didn't have the heart to ruin our deelgates' fun --- and, as a result, this year's Congress at Bakken not only took place as scheduled --- but at long last, after 53 years as one of Denmark's best-kept holiday secrets, the Congress finally found its way into the realms of the World Wide Web! I'm also pleased to inform you that the Congress' co-organizers, the Danish Santa Claus Guild, have likewise found their way into cyberspace, with a website that is unmistakably all their own! One thing's for sure, my friends: you can certainly expect this Jolly Old Elf to look in on all the merry goings-on at both http://www.worldsantaclauscongress.com/ and http://www.danskjulemandslaug.dk/ for the foreseeable future! Ho-ho-ho!
As usual, however, it has not always been fun and games here in the Kringleverse. Only a few short months ago, tension ran rampant amongst the populace of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Celebrate Santa was a marvelous concept on paper, but despite an epic 2-year staging, those responsible for its upkeep could not maintain the Festival financially for very long; and now, it is to be hoped that the City of Gatlinburg can attempt to collect that which is its rightful due, and have the various payments owed unto it properly taken care of. We will most certainly monitor what is obviously a continuing saga; whether or not that saga will end amicably is, for now, anyone's guess.
Regrettably, there has also been an intriguingly disturbing trend that has impacted neighborhoods in certain U.S. States and Canadian Provinces: in light of recent budgetary and economic concerns, several Santa Claus Parades are either being delayed, downsized, canceled, or simply rethought as Christmas happenings, most of them including and/or involving meet-n'-greet sessions and photo ops with dear Mrs. Claus and me. The prudency of most of these neighborhoods has to date been sensible; yet much of the time, the children are often disappointed as a result of these horrid situations. I have had to personally respond to questions from more than a few of my faithful subjects asking me, "How do you explain economics to a 3-year-old child?" A difficult dilemma, to say the least, and one not easily solved. The virtue of patience must be very carefully taught within the child, so that the little ones can fully understand situations such as the aforedescribed. We'll obviously be monitoring this especially controversial trend during the next few weeks and months.
The Mortals' Realm has also had to bid farewell to three of our more significant heroes, whose contributions to our Clausian legacy will never be surpassed. First, in May, Will Koch, the President and CEO of Holiday World & Surfin' Safari Theme Park in Santa Claus, Indiana, apparently drowned in his own swimming pool at his residence. There are those, not just in the Koch family itself, but in the entire Town of Santa Claus, who would tell you that young Will died too soon. One would hope that Will's brother Dan will continue the traditions that have long shaped Holiday World's legacy.
Then, in August, the Mortals in Richmond, Virginia lost Retired Detective Sergeant Dalton Rotruck "Ricky" Duling, known amongst young and old as the famous "Sergeant Santa," who dedicated his life's mission to reminding Richmond's children that policemen need not necessarily be someone to be afraid of. Sgt. Santa went out of his way to make certain that every child became aware of that; how fortunate we are indeed that he succeeded.
Finally, in September, in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, their Mortals honored a third icon of Christmas --- perhaps the oldest such icon in the history of our traditions. When, in 1963, Miss Billie Mae Richards sat in front of a microphone, surrounded by an unlikely cast of some of the finest names in Canadian radio, no one knew that they'd be putting together the major element of a television legend: the 1964 stop-motion animated special Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Long before then, Billie Mae had been a leading child star in early Canadian film, eventually becoming one of the most familiar personalities in Canadian radio. Truly, one can say that there is simply no Rudolph without Billie Mae Richards.
Tomorrow morning, before my final preparations for my Christmas Eve flight, we will, per our traditional rituals, set into motion the process to welcome Will, Dalton and Billie Mae into the Realm of Eternity. Each has met the required criteria for inclusion amongst our citizenry; I look forward to greeting all three of them in person.
As you know, the Great Santa Claus Oath, whose Eight Principles are indeed required reading by us all, was conceived by a true defender of my legacy, Mr. Philip L. Wenz. For over 40 years, Phil has consistently and honorably protected that legacy, from the time when, at the tender age of four, he first decided that he actually wanted to become Santa Claus --- to today, when, as a leading Santa Claus performer, historian and archivist, he has repeatedly demonstrated that, in placing Santa's name and likeness into a positive light, he has chosen to make a difference. Accordingly, the creators of the ClausNET website have seen fit to induct Phil into their first-ever Santa Claus Hall of Fame. We here in the Realm of Eternity congratulate Phil on what clearly is a well-deserved tribute.
We also salute Phil's efforts as leader of a spectacular two-year journey for his Great Santa Claus Oath Book. The Oath, which honors the memory of two great Santa Legends --- Charles W. Howard, the world's first great Santa Claus instructor; and Raymond James (Jim) Yellig, the performer who was the living image of the entire Town of Santa Claus, Indiana --- has traveled across 5 countries and 37 major cities, has been the subject of more than 70 public events, and has been signed by over 3000 Santas, Mrs. Clauses, Elves, Helpers and others. Now, after two unique closing ceremonies --- the first, in July, at Paradise, PA's National Christmas Center; the second, in September, on the grounds of Mr. Howard's old homestead in Albion, New York --- the Book has been returned to its permanent home at Santa's Candy Castle in Santa Claus, where it will remain enshrined until November 3rd, 2035: the 100th Anniversaries, not only of the Candy Castle itself, but also of the Town's own Santa Claus Statue; the founding by Jim Yellig of the Santa Claus American Legion; and Charles W. Howard's very first season as a department store Santa .... so that future generations may remember the Oath's kindly philosophy. We reverently, profoundly and nobly pay homage to those who have signed this vital, significant document; and we offer our thanks for all their combined efforts in supporting the Santa Claus tradition.
On a personal note, if you'll all kindly indulge me, I wish to take a moment to recognize another significant milestone, one that is especially dear to me. When Alexander and Ilya Salkind and Pierre Spengler approached me 25 years ago with the idea that they wanted me to tell my story in a way that no one had ever heard it told before, at first I thought that their idea bordered along the lines of silliness.
"Why," I asked them, "would I want to make another movie?"
"That's precisely the whole point," the boys told me. "We don't want it to be just 'another' movie. We want our audience to be immersed in the total Santa Claus experience; and more, we want to make absolutely sure that your legend is presented on the screen with the credibility that your legions of admirers have expected from you."
So it was, then, that on November 27th, 1985, Santa Claus: The Movie was first shared with the world. Dismissed by imagination-lacking film critics, particularly in the U.S., this wonderful, magical film has nonetheless come out on top because, as had been the case with those three films starring our dear next-door neighbor up here at the pole (that would, of course, be Kal-el, son of Jor-el of the Planet Krypton --- more legendarily known as Superman), there were those who were, and still are, unfailingly loyal to this movie's inventiveness, incredible style, and visual excitement which dazzled the eye and inspired many new dreams in a time long before computer-generated imagery ever became an almost day-to-day part of the technological DNA of film.
25 years later, there's not a child or an adult alive who hasn't been enchanted by Santa Claus: The Movie and its ground-breaking parable of youthful innocence versus bigtime greed, where the spirit of Christmas blossoms in its truest, most non-denominational form possible. Alexander Salkind left the Mortals' Realm in March of 1997, fearing that his filmmaking legacy would be lost to the world forever. Ilya, luckily, would, I suspect, have something to say about that. Today, he calls that something the Ilya Salkind Company. He's in his mid-60's by now, I'd guess, but thanks to the various projects he's working on, Ilya's now ready, as he himself had hoped, to pass the torch onto the next great generation of filmmakers to bear the Salkind name.
Please join me, then, in saluting Ilya Salkind and all the survivors of the cast and crew of Santa Claus: The Movie, without whose combined efforts there'd be fewer believers not just in me, but in the entire Realm of Forever as well. To them, let me say that, regardless of the opinions of others, your hard work and dedication were not in vain!
Now, please, let me briefly return to my earlier reference to Mother Nature. Humankind has taken for granted just how much of her resources we continue to destroy because we constantly make critical errors in judgment --- including, alas, that far more horrifying error called war. The incidents in and around the Gulf of Mexico should have reminded the Mortals that money, power and greed will, when left unchecked and uncontrolled, plunge the world into acts of chaos from whence there could be no escape. Sadly, such lessons have failed to achieve their intended purpose; and not even Santa Claus' wisdom can right that wrong in that particular manner. What, then, should one do?
I would say to you: seek out that which matters in your own secret heart. Believe --- for Hope, as with all else in this Life, cannot be achieved without loss; nor can Freedom be strengthened without suffering; or Victory won without sacrifice. Now and forever, the strength and the will to believe will rest on the shoulders of each and every one of you assembled here in this Throne Room tonight. How I wish I could describe in words how I've spent all these centuries believing in you all in return: first, as Nicholas, Bishop of Myra; then, as Father Christmas, le Pere Noel, Sinterklaas, Joulenissen, Joulupukki, Tomtenissen, Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost) ..... of course, as Santa Claus --- and now, as Nicholas, King of the Realm of Forever --- the names, the places, the traditions are endless, which is as it should be. I hope that all we've accomplished as we bring 2010 to its close will bring us on course to maintain our faiths well into 2011 and far, far beyond.
Speaking of 2011, in closing: Where will the journey take us come New Year's Day, I wonder? We all know that Pasadena's Tournament of Roses isn't very far away, mind you, with its theme of "Building Dreams, Friendships and Memories." I know you are all looking forward to witnessing a magical adventure on that score. I'm sure that this year's Rose Parade Grand Marshal, Food Network veteran Paula Deen, is looking forward to that adventure too, as are 2011 Rose Parade Queen Evanne Elizabeth Friedman and her Princesses: Tatyane Anaid Berrios; Sarah Christine Frederickson; Jessica Michelle Montoya; Tenaya Miyoko Senzaki; Kathryn Morris Thomson and Michelle Kaye Washington. I hope right along with all of them that the next 12 months will bring a renewed prosperity and joyfulness. I expect the same, of course, from you, my beloved and noble subjects.
But now, you must all excuse me, for it's just about time for me to get out of these rather elegant Royal garments, and back into my more familiar red-velvet suit. Soon my Christmas Eve flight will begin, and I think my young admirers deserve a visit from the one true Santa Claus (that, of course, would be me). So, to each and every one of you here within the sound of my voice, and to you each and all throughout the cosmos far beyond, I say once more, as I have long said time and again across the aeons ---
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL, A GOOD NIGHT!