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The art of Santa Claus

For one Saint Nick with nine years experience, Christmas time is a state of mind

Posted: December 25, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 25, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Stan Taub, dressed as Santa Claus, talks on the phone while eating cookies before making an appearance at the Newhall Community Center for a holiday event. Signal photo by Charlie Kaijo.

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Stan Taub had no idea the minutia involved in becoming Santa Claus.

There’s the hair issue, for example.

During his early experiences, the veteran Santa of nine years used a theatrical hair spray to whiten his hair. But he discovered bleaching through a beautician he met at his grandkid’s school.

“I talked to several Santas,” Taub said as he awaited the directive to go on during a recent Christmas party at the Newhall Community Center. “A lot of guys will bleach it.”

“I met this guy Ron, he told me he would bleach his hair every six weeks. I started doing it. I like it. It was fairly grey when I first started.”

The Winnetka resident made several appearances as Santa Claus in the Santa Clarita Valley this season.Sometimes, he says, his wife portrays Mrs. Claus.

But the career never occurred to him at a younger age, especially as he grew up in a conservative Jewish family.

“I never thought of being a Santa,” Taub mused in a Community Center break room. The opportunity just sort of popped up when a friend asked him to take over because he was too tired to continue.

The event was a holiday party hosted by the Encino Shrine Club and held for a school with students suffering from Down syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy.

After suiting up as Santa, Taub walked up on the stage and read “The Night Before Christmas,” then spoke to the children.

He was hooked.

“It was such a great feeling when I walked in to the auditorium with all of those children sitting there and the response that I got from them, the warm welcome, the coming up to me, the hugging me,” he said.

“It was one of those situations where you never really pay much attention to the Santa community till you get involved with it.”

Taub says his Jewish background doesn’t conflict with his portrayal of the classic Christmas symbol.

“People ask me about portraying Santa being Jewish,” he said. “I don’t think Santa is necessarily a religious symbol of the Christmas holiday. He is a symbol of giving, love and kindness, which I think should be involved with all religions.”

His daughter helped him develop the Christmas character by recommending he join the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas — a group that holds a Santa reunion and luncheon every January to promote the positive image of real bearded Santas while connecting them to community service organizations.

The fraternity is only one of a dozen different Santa organizations Taub has considered joining.

“Different organizations do different things,” he said. “The one in January is a luncheon. They tell stories on what they did during the season, how to get your name out in the public, how to groom your beard and your hair, and they teach you different things on being Santa. People hold classes on these things.”

One of the things he’s learned, he says, is that being Santa isn’t just a wintertime thing.

During the off season, Taub continues to stay in character. “I dress in red,” he said. “I have my red suspenders that I wear. In the summer, I have shorts and long calf socks that are red and tennis shoes with Santa Claus embroidered on them.”

A die-hard Dodgers fan, Taub even has a red Dodgers hat with the letters “LA” embroidered in green and a white jersey that says “North Pole” with the name “Claus” stitched on the back.

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