What’s It Worth?: His Goal is a Better Santa’s Visit
Disappointed with a neighborhood Santa Claus as a kid, Mike Ching has made it his mission for three decades to offer a better Santa experience for his clients.
It’s all in the details. Some of his custom-made Santa suits weigh almost 50 pounds and take about 30 minutes to get into. Each are outfitted with accessories such as gold buckles and real black boots because kids recognize the difference. “We heard kids say this Santa is real cause he has real boots,” says Ching.
Customers can choose from three styles. For around $300 an hour, deluxe Father Christmas, a European Santa complete with a plush robe and rich mink trim, will attend your event. For $200 an hour, you can get classic Santa or his newest addition, Surf Santa, clad in an aloha shirt, shorts and slippers.
“He looks like Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead,” says Ching.
In addition to getting people’s praise, he’s also sometimes privy to their secret wishes. “When people trust Santa, they’ll tell him things they won’t tell anyone else. Tweens will tell you, ‘I know you’re not the real Santa, but can you get my mom and dad back together again?’ ”