Saint Nick. Kris Kringle. Grandfather Frost. The Jolly Ol’ Elf.
At Christmas time, children everywhere leave the traditional milk and cookies by the tree and wait in anticipation for the sound of sleigh bells and the arrival of Santa Claus.
But the question has lingered throughout history. Just who is Santa Claus?
By day, Santa poses as mild-mannered 59-year-old Rob Sims of Yelm, and while his primary interest is in toymaking, he helps finance his operation during the year by working as an energy assessment specialist throughout the area.
“I’m somewhat of a detective, checking to make sure that homes are efficient,” said Sims, a former Clark County resident. “To be honest, it also gives me a chance to see if the kids are naughty or nice and if the home has a chimney or not.”
As Sims got older, he noticed his hair and beard became pure white and it helped him be Santa every year for his own children.
“I’d go up on the roof every year with my suit and bells and we had a great time,” said Sims. “Now that they’re adults, I realized I still enjoyed it.”
No matter where he goes, Sims is often stopped by parents and children alike, often with interesting results.
“I was walking into a restaurant in Auburn to get a bite to eat when a family stopped next to me and their child was just awestruck,” Sims said. “His mother came up and said the reason he was so stunned was she’d just told him he needed to behave because you never know when Santa is watching.”
When asked if he plays Santa during the season, Sims takes it a step further.
“I tell them that I am Santa,” said Sims. “Because so many people believe in the idea of Santa, it is something I take very seriously, so it gives me something to live up to.”
Over the years, Sims has researched the history of Santa Claus and incorporated it into the many visits he makes throughout the year. He’s also found that as many adults are as interested in speaking to him as their kids are.
“It’s interesting in that as kids, we’re taught to believe in Santa. Then as they get older, we’re told not to,” said Sims. “But, as we become parents and see our own kids grow, we start to believe again.”
Aside from children, Sims has met many elderly people who are all too happy to see him every year, though some also have long-standing grudges he has to sort out.
“I once almost got hit by a 90-year-old woman who was so mad at me because she wanted to know why I hadn’t come back to her house for so long,” said Sims. “All I could do was give her a hug, tell her I thought she was a good girl and promise I’d be there again this year.”
In the last year, Sims has taken his passion for being Santa and made it part of his livelihood, creating the website, www.funsanta4u.com and going to community and corporate events throughout Washington to spread the joy of Christmas.
“I enjoy it so much and I find it helps me look forward to this time of the year because I can help people reinforce their own love of the season,” said Sims. “I’m finding I’ve been pretty in-demand so far and even if I arrive a little late I can tell them that Santa always arrives early.”
Sims plans on being Santa for as long as he can and is proud of what he’s been able to do so far.
“As long as my health holds up, and as long as I’m asked if I’m Santa, then I might as well be the best Santa I can be,” Sims said.