The sour economy is affecting everyone, no matter their skills, education or iconic cultural standing, as this breaking holiday news from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution today states:
Metro Atlanta area Kriss Kringles say that their hours have been slashed; they haven’t had a pay raise in several years; and, even as Christmas Day closes in, their calendars are wide open for parades, office parties or sitting in the big chair at the mall to ask children if they’ve been naughty or nice.
Gary Casey, 71, who has the right stature—and the beard—has been portraying Santa Claus for some 15 years or so, says times are tough for jolly old elves.
“In the good times, I’d have 400 bookings,” said Casey, “but now I’m just barely breaking 100.”
Ever the entrepreneur, Casey started a web site—SantaAtlanta.com—to serves as a clearinghouse for Santa jobs in the metro area. At the high point, he had more than 100 white-whiskered, red-clad clients. Now he’s down to barely 60 Santas. And with less than a week until Christmas, work is scarce,
With all that free time, Casey is working gratas by showing up at places where a Santa is really needed—hospitals and children’s center and soup kitchens.
“When you get right down to it, this isn’t just a job,” he said. “It’s a calling. We want to bring some joy to the children.”