Becoming Mr. & Mrs. Claus
When Mr. and Mrs. Claus can’t be there in person, the Schrievers are the next best thing.
Randy, 62, has been portraying a jolly old elf for more than two decades.
“It all started when my mother asked me to be Santa at our church,” he said. “I’d never considered it before, but it was kind of fun.”
Soon, he got requests for home visits, then schools and other functions around his Texas hometown.
“It all just started to grow,” he said.
His mother initially played Ms. Claus, but his wife, Sandi, 68, took over several years ago when the pair moved to Glenwood Springs. That’s also about the time Randy started growing his beard out full time.
“When I first got into it it was a fake beard. I didn’t know any different,” he said. “I eventually decided to take it a little more seriously, so I started contacting schools.”
The Schrievers are graduates of a program out of Denver, and couldn’t be happier with where they’ve chosen to settle.
“This is a natural place to do Santa Claus,” Randy said. “The scenery is absolutely appropriate.”
Most of the year, Randy’s a twinkly eyed bus driver and Sandi’s a health aide at Glenwood Springs Elementary.
“In the heat of June the image isn’t there,” Randy said.
As the Christmas season approaches, his naturally white beard and general demeanor start catching attention.
“When we’re in public, I have to watch what I do and say,” he said. “From November all the way through December, kids are always running up and hugging me.”
He always keeps an “I was caught being good” coin on hand, as well as a license allowing an airspeed of up to 2,083 mph with a nine-reindeer limit.
Not that there’s a lot of off time in the first place during the holiday season.
“We were booked by the end of September,” Randy said. “In the month of December we’ve had three days off.”
For the second year running, they’re up at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park every weekend, and now other institutions like Alpine Bank and the Limelight Hotel are beginning to take note.
“When they see one they really like, that’s the one they want,” said Sandi.
Their popularity even extends to One&Only Ocean Club in the Bahamas, where the Schrievers are spending Christmas proper. Although he has to be in character the whole time, Randy is prepared with red shorts and a holiday-themed Hawaiian shirt.
“It should be fun,” he said. “It’s something we haven’t done. It’s something that a lot of Santas haven’t done. I thought it was pretty cool that a Santa out of Glenwood was chosen.”
For the most part, the Schrievers prefer to stick close to home, and have made a point of donating some of their time.
“When a community has been as nice as they’ve been, we do as much as we can to give back,” Sandi said.
It’s not always easy.
“I get asked why are there so many problems in the world. You have to prepare yourself for that,” Randy said. “Sometimes they leave my lap and I’m almost in tears. There are just some things that Santa cannot do.”
There’s also the matter of overcoming doubt.
“The number of children that believe today compared to 20 years ago has really dropped,” Randy said. “It’s a tradition that is losing its punch over the years as Christmas has become so commercialized.”
Sandi’s role prepping the crowd is essential to that.
“Mrs. Claus does a lot of the work,” Randy said.
“It’s like Grandma,” Sandi said. “You want to be a little bit magic but you also want some common sense.”
It takes authenticity and effort to really do it right.
“It isn’t something you can just go out and do. You have to believe in it,” Randy said. “You just have to decide in your heart who’s Santa and who’s the helpers. I have several children on my bus that are worried that I won’t make it back to the North Pole on time.”
In the end, he wouldn’t trade it for anything.
“You don’t always realize the actual impact that these Santas have. While you’re there, they don’t have a worry in the world,” he said. “When you go sit in the recliner at the end of the day and think of the smiles and the gleams in the eye, it makes it all worth the time.”
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