The man behind the suit — An in-depth look at the jolly man many know as Santa Claus


Santa Claus has been visiting the University of Idaho to take photos with students for years, but not many stop to think, “who is Santa Claus?”

Many students just know the basics. Somehow, the mysterious man drops off presents to every child in the world in one night using a sleigh and eight tiny reindeer. Claus employs a number of elves to help him make the toys. When Claus makes a list, he checks it not just once, but twice. But what does Claus do with the rest of his year?

While Claus visited the campus last week, there was an opportunity to find out. He took time out of his busy schedule to meet and discuss how and why he does it.

Alexandra Stutzman | Argonaut
Students gather around Santa to get their photo taken Wednesday
afternoon in the Idaho Commons.

Claus said although he is a busy person, he enjoys visiting because UI has a good group of photogenic students. It is also a convenient way to find out what students want for Christmas, he said. The public relations aspect of taking photos with students, he said, is a plus.

Claus refused to comment on how exactly he reaches every house in one night. He worried someone might swoop in to replace him if the valuable knowledge gets out. However, he did say he has reindeer and a touch of magic, which helps. 

This year’s toy production is going well and is ahead of schedule. So, the elves have started to work on next year’s presents, Claus said.

If students want to earn brownie points for next year, Santa said his favorite cookies are snickerdoodles.

“I definitely appreciate if some kids left some snickerdoodles under the tree this year, or by the fireplace,” Claus said. “Wherever you choose to leave them, I’ll sniff them out.”

When Santa is not delivering presents to children, checking his list and making the rounds at malls and universities, he plays golf and watches plenty of football. His favorite teams include the Chargers and the Vandals, even if the Vandals have had better seasons, Claus said.

UI Career Services hosted Claus this year. John Mangiantini, UI assistant director for internships and employer relations, said Claus has been visiting the university for at least the last 10 years. It is a partnership with Claus and the Career Center, to help raise awareness of the office, but helps both parties involved. Mangiantini said Event and Support Services helped set up the tree in the Idaho Commons rotunda and allowed Claus and the Career Center to use the space.

Mangiantini said it is not just students who come to see Claus. Entire offices, student groups and childrens groups turn out for the event. It has become a community-wide event, Mangiantini said.

No matter if students have been naughty or nice, every year they have the opportunity to meet Claus on the UI campus.

Kali Nelson can be reached at or on Twitter @kalinelson6

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