Here Comes (Jamaican) Santa Claus
By stern on Jan 01, 2006
My cast of alter egos grew by one over the holiday break. That's me, in a Santa suit, accompanied by my "elves" as we prepared to make landfall on the beach in front of the Hotel Riu Ocho Rios.
Backstory: On Christmas morning, the head of the entertainment crew at the hotel asked if I'd step in as Santa Claus. There were a few small facts omitted, but I considered this fair payback for my near-continuous musical mauling of Babylon By Bus by the pool.
The Prep: I was literally stuffed into a Santa suit, equipped with workman's boots and handed a Hefty bag of trash to lug around, turning me from one resident of the North Pole (Frosty) into another (Santa) in about 40 minutes. I got a nice tour of the backstage area at the hotel, and got to see first-hand what it's like to be in the entertainment division of a major resort. What we see is people having fun, teaching aerobics on the beach and making up silly games by the pool. What we don't see are the 12 hour days, six days a week, including cleaning up the backstage, front stage, tables, and bar areas after every show.
The Approach: If the Jamaican Bobsled Team has to go to Wyoming to train, how do you find enough cold stuff to land Santa for gift dispensing? You use a fishing boat and drive it up on the beach. True to form, I slammed my red velour covered shin into the gunwale of the boat. I'll swear I was Santa but won't swear as Santa.
The Kids: About 100 kids followed me through the property, through the main lobby, and back to the show stage, where I sat and posed for pictures while handing out gifts. I only lost my beard twice, both times when I grabbed white nylon and a kid at the same time and snapped the elastic on the back of my head.
Major props to Bill Rosenblatt, good friend and former roommate, without whom I never would have discovered Rastafarianism, the Lion of Judah, Positive Vibrations, or how much fun it is to bring a bit of the snow and cold to part of the world that's always warm. Irie, mon.