Just be Claus

Talking from Experiences by Ashleigh Tremere

Some Santas getting ready to set out carolling and collect more Santas along the way

Full disclosure, I love winter. I don’t think I’d enjoy living in a place where the seasons didn’t change as dramatically as they do here on the East Coast. I love big, fat, slow snowflakes. That sparkle when the sun hits the trees all painted with ice and the land just dances in a glittery suit of white. 

Along with winter comes our last of the big holidays of the year though, which can become more overwhelming than joyful. For me it’s Christmas and plenty of traditional holiday gatherings to be had come December, all of them with their own blend of nostalgia and obligation.  

Christmas takes on a different form when you’re an adult. All the bits I actually love about it become tasks to orchestrate. If I could have all the holiday cheer and peanut butter balls without any of the work, that would be optimal. 

Since it doesn’t work like that, there’s this other thing I do for pure joy in the season, and I’m not alone. Thankfully there’s anywhere from 50–80 other people here in PEI who also consider it a holiday tradition for the last 13 years. It’s called SantaCon.  

Yes, a convention of Santas. They have them in 33 countries; over 350 of these gatherings took place in 2023 alone. Only six of those were in Canada, and that number is actually up now from past years. 

So, what’s the point? What’s the draw? 

Well, you dress up like Santa, or other Christmas motifs like Mrs. Claus, a reindeer or even a Christmas tree. Personally I’ve always gone as an elf.  Then you head out caroling around town, stopping into pre-warned establishments for libations, holiday trivia, karaoke and dancing. Along our route, while singing loud and clear for all to hear, we pass out little treats and tell people they are on the nice list. 

Sounds ridiculous, right? Ridiculous fun that is! 

It is this strange, joyful wander that you only really get after you’ve done it. Pretty much everyone we meet finds SantaCon fun, and if it seems like people don’t enjoy our singing, then we just “Ho Ho Ho” and move on. But more often than not, people run to open their windows, listen and laugh. 

In a lot of cities it seems like SantaCon is something business owners and residents don’t really look forward to. However here in PEI, we have kept our boots polished up and Santa’s good name from being tarnished. We have a set of rules that seem to keep the sleigh on the right cheerful track and out of naughty list territory. 

So if this type of merriment sounds like just the way to pick up your holiday spirit, I recommend you watch for SantaCon 2024 announcements next year. The event is open to anyone who can abide by the “rules,” and plenty of us actually only see each other for this one event a year. 

I promise you don’t have to be able to sing well, but you do need to dress up and “Ho Ho Ho.”