Santas From Across Globe Meet in Denmark

This was a nice article to see, brings a smile to your face...
yeah XMAS is coming(fav time of year)

By JAN M. OLSEN, Associated Press Writer

COPENHAGEN, Denmark - More than 100 Santa Clauses and their little helpers danced, bellowed ho-hos and raced up a rapidly melting hill made of snow Monday at the annual World Santa Claus Congress.

Despite a sprinkle of rain and trees in full Nordic summer bloom, the Papa Noels, St. Nicks and Sinter Klaases from 10 countries were in a yuletide spirit as they kicked off a three-day convention in Denmark, including a Santa parade and a chimney-climbing competition.

To the strains of "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer," the bearded Santas dressed in red and white gathered in a northern Copenhagen amusement park as dozens of children watched in astonishment.

"I didn't know that there were that many Santas," said Cecilia Bergqvist, an 8-year-old Swedish girl.

While all Santas professed to be the real thing, one delegate from Marysville, Washington, could make a pretty good case. He legally changed his name to Santa Claus, saying he hated "to lie to children."

Claus, who has worked as Santa for the past two decades, showed his passport to an AP reporter to prove his claim.

To qualify as Santa, candidates must sport a white beard, don a red suit in which they must not smoke tobacco — and refrain from drinking alcohol before addressing children. At the Denmark congress, their physical skills also were put to the test.

A team of three foreign Santas — including Claus, Tokyo resident Paradise Yamamoto and Norway's Thorvald Moi — easily beat three Danish Julemaend in a race up a snowy 5-foot hill atop which they put a small present under a Christmas tree.

Yamamoto, who traveled to Denmark with his sidekick, Yutaka Iwabuchi, dressed as the reindeer Rudolph, said being Santa was "tough work."

A chimney-climbing competition was set for later Monday.

Later this week, the Santas are also scheduled to parade in Copenhagen, visit hospitalized children and take a dip in the sea.

They also were expected to have a few good laughs as they draft proposals to improve their working conditions.

Their demands include standardizing chimney widths in the 25-country European Union and holding Christmas twice a year to lessen the burden on Santas, whom they said must currently rush around the world to distribute presents in just one day.

The festival has grown from a local summer activity created 42 years ago by the Bakken amusement park, 13 miles north of downtown Copenhagen, to an event attracting Santas from around the world. By tradition, the festival is held each year six months before Christmas.


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