Quirks of the job: Santa Claus is front and center for all the mishaps, meltdowns and holiday memories
by Brooke Carbo
bcarbo@annistonstar.com
Dec 22, 2013 | 1415 views |  0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Submitted photo
Submitted photo
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Visions of picture-perfect tykes with jolly Old Saint Nick danced in your head. The screaming kids, squirming pets and exhausted mall workers had other ideas. But the worst pictures make the best stories. Don't believe us? Check out the reader submitted photos below.

1. QUICK CHANGE

Jeanie McAdams had her daughters, 11-year-old Jadee and 2-year-old Paisley, dressed in matching Christmas sweaters and ready for their picture with Santa. But when they arrived at Quintard Mall last year with her niece and nephew in tow, she decided last minute to make it a group shot — a holiday picture of all the kids to send to their grandparents who had just moved to Abu Dhabi.
“So we had to settle for that quick pic,” McAdams said. “They were trying to get her to smile, but I just threw her in his lap and ran!”

2. UNPLEASANTLY SURPRISED

Chad Prince and his daughters, 7-year-old Mileah and 20-month-old Cara, were enjoying a day at Bass Pro Shop one day before Thanksgiving when Santa just happened to be there. Perhaps it was Christmas’s encroachment on the holiday of thanks that had Cara so up in arms.
“Needless to say, my youngest didn't find Santa to be that much fun,” Prince said. “As soon as we had her back from Santa, she stopped crying."

3. FORGET THE MISTLETOE

If Stephanie and David Hobbs didn’t want to sit for a couple Santa photo, they should have rethought announcing their engagement during a Christmas party at the elementary school where her mother worked.
“My mother is a huge Santa fanatic, so she had to have her only baby girl in a picture with Santa,” Stephanie explained.
The groom was less than pleased, but reluctantly agreed for his future mother-in-law. And that Santa photo went on to be used in announcements and mailings throughout the couple’s engagement, which proved fortuitous. The couple ended up having a Christmas wedding the next year — they celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary Thursday.

4. HANG ONTO YOUR HATS

Lance Johnson Studios on Noble Street captured this unexpected moment during a Christmas event several years ago at Pickette’s Pet Supply. Although the clientele was mostly dogs and cats, Jim Johnson recalled one family who brought in their three dogs … and a ferret.
“As I was taking the picture, the ferret was falling off of Santa’s head,” said Johnson. “Everybody just got a big laugh about it.”

5. CAMERA SHY

Jim Johnson also shot Santa photos at Rabbit Hutch Gift Shop earlier this season, where one-year-old Buddy Varnum “just freaked out,” Johnson recalls.
“What’s funny about Buddy is that I take his picture a lot,” he said. “He’s just the greatest kid, but I’ve never seen him like that.”

6. FAMILY TRADITION

Jackie Hambright, 26, and her four brothers have been getting their picture made with Santa since they were just kids. That her brothers now range in age from 14 to 24 hasn’t put a damper on this sibling tradition, although “it’s kind of embarrassing,” Jackie admits. “There’s babies and toddlers running around and then there’s us waiting in line for an hour to see Santa, just hoping we don’t see anybody we know.”
As they’ve gotten older, Jackie has taken on the task of rounding the guys up for the annual trip to Quintard Mall — no easy feat, “but it’s for Mom so they’ll finally suck it up.”
And mom still sets out every Hambright sibling Santa pic with the rest of the Christmas decorations.

WHAT SANTA SAW

Dale Smith has posed for his share of quirky Santa photos in his four years channeling the big guy. Here, the Quintard Mall Santa shares a few memorable moments from his Christmas season in Anchorage, Alaska.

7. "They’re just trying to make the babies laugh ... but Santa’s helpers block a lot of shots — a lot."

8. "These big guys always say to me, ‘I don’t want to hurt you.’ I tell them, ‘Come on in here, you can’t hurt me … You’re not even close to the biggest guy to sit on this lap.’ … An 800-pound Sumo wrestler holds that distinction."

9. "We were clowning around, he was happy but he just would not smile. He was so proud of that cowboy hat so before they took the picture, I switched them — he just laughed and laughed."

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