By Michelle Miller
---- — “Behind every great man there is a great woman.”
Even the magical Santa Claus needs help making the holiday season go without flaws. Yes, he has the elves at the North Pole working on toys for all the good little boys and girls, but Mrs. Claus does not just sit home tending the house.
On Nov. 23, Santa and his wife arrived in Cooperstown and have since taken up residence in their Pioneer Park cottage. According to Mrs. Claus, she also travels all around the world, just not all in one night.
Mrs. Claus said she not only visits local places such as schools, Pathfinder Village and nursing homes, but travels to schools all over the world for programs.
“I typically tell the children the story about how Saint Nicholas came to America and eventually became Santa,” she said.
The lady in red said it is her job to look after the elves and help the children warm up to Santa.
“Sometimes I’m not as scary as Santa,” Mrs. Claus said. “I have a group, especially made up of girls, that I guess I would call Mrs. Claus groupies.”
“Some children are a little shy,” she added. “Sometimes it is really hard for them to open up when they have been spending a really long time dreaming of Santa.”
Mrs. Claus said she uses pop-up books and Belle the dog to help children come out of their shells.
“All the little girls think she is Princess Belle,” she said referring to the dog sitting in the warm cottage.
Mrs. Claus holds storytime sessions each year for children.
“When Santa and I are not very busy, we will often read a story with families that come visit,”she said.
Mrs. Claus said some locals borrow books to show to their friends and some children bring their favorites to read to her and Santa.
It is Mrs. Claus’ job to help Santa spread Christmas joy. Although Santa gets the most letters, Mrs. Claus said some children write her.
“My favorites are the ones that include artwork,” she said. “I get letters of all varieties.”
Mrs. Claus said many children write thoughtful letters, not just a list of what they want.
“Most children usually tell me about themselves,” Mrs. Claus said. “The hard ones are when they ask for things we can’t bring such as when a grandparent gets sick or mom or dad has lost a job.”
Mrs. Claus said her favorite thing about the holiday season is getting to see families that come visit year after year.
“It is very fun to see them grow up,” she said.
Some families travel a long distance to visit, Mrs. Claus said.
“Christmas Eve is our busiest day of the year” she continued. “It is some families’ tradition to wait until Christmas Eve to come see us, while others are here to see family for the weekend.”
Mrs. Claus said she and Santa also make sure to go visit every patient at Bassett once they finish visiting with families at their cottage. She said Santa has to go to church before hopping into his sleigh and making his journey around the world.
Christmas in Cooperstown is very special, according to Mrs. Claus. She said it would not be possible without all the volunteers who help with the preparation of their arrival, getting the cottage ready and decorating the streets.
“There are just so many people who give their time,” she said. “It’s why Santa and I love it so much. We are the ones who get to hear how everybody loves to come to Cooperstown and spend the holiday here.”