Like the name of our paper indicates, we search for “the spirit” in each community we serve and in working to highlight “the spirit of the season,” we found a reader of The Spirit who also embodies the season’s spirit.
He was none other than Santa Claus himself and he welcomed an exclusive interview.
Frank Naimoli (www.santakringle.com), a longtime Santa Claus who lives in Glenolden, talks about the countdown to sleigh-take off, his scene stealing elf, and another option besides milk and cookies.
The Spirit (TS): Santa, you must be very busy. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.
Santa Claus (SC): – It’s my pleasure. The Spirit is one of Santa’s favorite publications at the North Pole.
TS: It’s crunch time for you. What is the process during these last days before Christmas?
SC: Constant supervision of elves and toys. If you don’t watch them, they end up trying to have too much fun with the newer toys. (Santa added a hearty “Ho, ho, ho.”)
TS: I can imagine it’s hard keeping them away from the Xboxes, PlayStations and drones.
SC: They are small enough to fly on the drones (and because of that) we have now insisted the drone-making elves wear parachutes.
TS: Elf on the Shelf has gotten a ton of publicity between a book deal and tons of social media exposure in recent years. Is there jealously in the elf ranks?
SC: They aren’t jealous. It’s basically like a businessman who has to travel all over the country. They have a lot of travel, paperwork and reporting. They are the cream of the crop but it’s not an envious job. Don’t forget, there are female Elves on the Shelf!
TS: Does an elf have to get a masters degree to be an Elf on the Shelf?
SC: No, but you have to put your time in. You have to be with me over 500 years.
TS: How is your beard coming in this year?
SC: All warm and fuzzy.
TS: Were you happy to see Delaware County get snow before Dec. 25th?
SC: Who do you think brought it? I was in town that day and thought I would bring a little taste of the North Pole with me. You know, after the holidays, that’s Mother Nature’s. I have nothing to do with that snow.
TS: Between the lists you receive and children visiting you personally, what are the most requested toys this year?
SC: Like last year, children want the Hatchimals but they want the doubles, the Hatchimal twins. The other big requests are Fingerlings and LOL Surprise Doll. As always, American Girl dolls.
TS: What are requests you have received throughout your 40 years as Santa?
SC: Every year without fail, someone asks for Barbie or the Barbie Dream House. Legos are the most popular and they keep making wonderful sets.
TS: Will Santa get a chance to see The Last Jedi? Perhaps a North Pole midnight release party…?
SC: Of Course! You think your metroplexes here are huge…you ain’t seen nothing until you’ve seen the North Pole 400.
TS: The tradition is to leave milk and cookies for Santa. How would you feel if someone left a cheesesteak for you?
SC: Oh! I wouldn’t turn it down, but I would have to hide it from Comet. Fried onions, ketchup and American cheese, please. None of that Wiz for ole’ Kringle!
TS: I’ve been told Santa doesn’t take any last minute requests. But is there any way he can do something about Carson Wentz’s ACL?
SC: (deep sigh) Unfortunately, the Eagles used up their Christmas wishes a few years ago when I gave them the second pick in the draft. Contrary to popular belief, Santa Claus is not mad at the Eagles for the snowball fight in 1968. It is a myth perpetrated by people on the Naughty List. Santa loves the Eagles.
TS: A penguin has been on my Christmas List since I was five years-old. I’ve gotten variations of the request, but not the actual real thing. Even though a penguin was adopted for me at the zoo, it’s frowned upon when you try to take it home. Do you have penguins? And if so, why can’t I have my own?
SC: Penquins are part of our workforce. They are very high maintenance. They like to maintain the proper look they have and only eat the best fish.
TS: What is your preflight meal on Christmas Eve?
SC: Lots of carbs throughout the day. I make sure the reindeer are hydrated; no more Red Bull! I tried that one year with the reindeer and it didn’t end well. We ended up in an iceberg in Alaska! For our preflight dinner, it’s everyone’s favorite. Mine is a thick porterhouse steak, mashed potatoes, string onions and mushrooms and big cold Coca-Cola.
TS: What is your favorite part about visiting Delaware County?
SC: All the smiling faces. All the joy and love I get from Delaware County. No matter what place I visit, whether it’s the candy stores or the restaurants, everyone is familiar! It is very special to me.