Carl Immediatio awoke in a cold sweat one autumn night in 1993. A nightmare had just finished tormenting him with a stark reality: He had been blessed with good children, a good wife, good job, and good home – but he was not doing good.
Carl realized he wasn’t giving enough back.
The seed of doubt may have been planted a few months earlier, when Carl was chosen to play Santa Claus at his company Christmas party. (To receive such a nomination is a tremendous compliment to a man’s character and good looks.) Carl opted in favor of growing a real beard over donning a fake, scratchy one. As Carl increasingly resembled Santa, did he feel he was falling short of the saint’s example? It is possible.
The morning following his revelation Carl called the Salvation Army. He asked to volunteer as a bell ringer, but only if he could do so as Santa Claus. Santa Carlucci thus came to be on Black Friday.
“My wife whipped me up a simple costume,” said Santa Carlucci. “She affixed some fur to a red pullover, which along with a pair of boots and a hat from Walgreens made me look the part well enough. I put cheap, foamy whitening in my beard and too much blush on my cheeks. I looked like a clown, but I was determined.
“I rang a bell outside a store for ten hours that day. I returned to ring it every Friday and Saturday for the rest of the holiday season. I froze solid, but I didn’t care. I got a lot of ‘sympathetic’ donations and I was brightening the day for a lot of people.”
Santa Carlucci endured the bitter weather and incessant tintinnabulation for several years, grateful that his boss Herb Rorke gave him free leave for charity work. In this fashion he cold forged his Santa persona. He amassed a better wardrobe as well.
In his eighth year volunteering Santa Carlucci received a formative compliment. “One day a lady in an elegant dress came out of the store,” said Santa Carlucci. “She turned to me and said ‘Oh my gosh, you’re wonderful! You’re better looking than the Santas at the mall! Who handles you?’ It turned out she was a modeling agent. That was the signal I needed to switch gears and begin entertaining in a home environment.”
Any Santa will confess to feeling overwhelmed during his first home visits, but Santa Carlucci’s determination bore him through the unbridled energy of children going bananas over him. He soon found his greatest strengths as an entertainer: storytelling and props. His props in particular are enough to put even the most incredulous sprout’s doubts to rest. Santa Carlucci will arrive with real pieces of antlers and the North Pole itself, a bell which can summon baby reindeer, and a most compelling box of special fairy dust. The dust, he will explain to a child with eyes wide as pie plates, is why reindeer can fly and how he can carry so many tons of gifts. A tiny electric light hidden within Santa Carlucci’s glove makes the dust sparkle as he details its magic.
Over his decades wearing the red suit, Santa Carlucci has developed a special devotion to children challenged by disabilities and illnesses. He spends roughly one third of his time volunteering at places such as Children’s Minnesota Hospital, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, and University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.
“I still get emotional when I see the most beautiful child, and I know they’ll never be able to do the things my own children will. But when they see me, they’re happy,” said Santa Carlucci. “It is a rough duty. Sometimes I would like to cry. But a Santa must never, ever break character.
“The thing is, I come in as a celebrity and spend all of eight minutes with a child. But what about the doctors, nurses, parents, and all of the other caregivers who are there every day? They’re the ones giving their whole lives to these children. They’re the ones who deserve the acclaim – not me.”
Santa Carlucci is available for hospital visits, military family visits, home visits, virtual visits, company parties, photo shoots, parades, and anything else that can be made more like Christmas. You may even have his wife Mrs. Jenny Lynn Claus join him. (It is well known that Mrs. Claus can get some especially small or shy children to open up in a way that a large, strange man never will.) Please visit yoursantatoo.com to learn more about the duo.
By David Scheller