“Scary” Santas, Clowns, And Other Strangers

Posted by Dave

A series of photos in the Dallas Morning News this week traced the evolution of our Texas State Fair’s mascot, “Big Tex.” Almost 60 years ago, before landing his permanent gig near the entrance to the Midway, “Tex” began his career as Santa Claus. If the newspaper picture does him justice, he must have been the most terrifying Santa ever – as tall as a two-story house, with immense teeth and a vacant stare. For little ones, seeing him would have been more of a threat than a treat. (“Yeah, kids, if you’re bad, I’ll make you go see Santa. Waa-hah-hah-hah-hah!!”)

Almost every family has a photo tucked away in an album somewhere of one or more of their offspring, warily regarding a normal-sized Kris Kringle (if they’re not captured in mid-scream after being handed off to this stranger.) Wee ones seem to like the concept of Santa, more than they actually enjoy being passed like a football into the arms of a guy whose red suit smells like mothballs.

What – then – is a parent to do? How can you get a perfect snapshot of your Munchkin with Santy Claws to send to the grandparents? In 4 words: hold the little darling.

Most kids are fine with Santa (or – for that matter – party clowns or complete strangers) as long as they are safely in your arms, and you are okay with Santa, Bozo, or… whoever. What the wee ones don’t like is feeling abandoned by you (even if it’s just for a photo.)

Similarly, at parties, you should stay with Junior until Barfo the Clown has him so enthralled with balloon animals that he completely forgets how 5 minutes ago, Barfo was a stranger. The same thing goes for Aunt Fanny. You may have known her all your life, but if your kid hasn’t, give the 2 of them time to get acquainted before you wander off to the buffet table.

As for Santa, the last thing he wants is yet another tyke screaming bloody murder. Ask him nicely, and I’ll bet he’ll let you hold little Ruprecht in the photo. If you’ve been really good this year, maybe he will even let you sit in his chair, and will pose standing beside you. Then – unless you start crying – you’ll wind up with a photo worth sending to the in-laws.


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