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Santa Claus came to town

"Santa Rob" visited Central Park on Saturday for the annual "Breakfast with Santa" event at Central Park.

Santa took a break from his busy schedule to visit Woodbury on Saturday for the annual "Breakfast with Santa" event at Central Park.

The event is sponsored by the Woodbury Recreation Department.

"Santa Rob," whose real name is Rob Mathewson, has been donning the "Santa suit" for 13 seasons now. During the off-season, "Santa Rob" is a Catholic school teacher at Epiphany in Coon Rapids.

In between his busy schedule, "Santa Rob" sat down last week with the Woodbury Bulletin for a short chat about life as Father Christmas.

Woodbury Bulletin: How did you first get started being Santa Claus?

Santa Rob: The first time I did it, I worked at Davanni's Pizza and we decided to have a promotion and they needed a Santa Claus of course for Christmas. So, I volunteered. I got hooked ever since. There's just so much excitement - I enjoy the joy from the kids.

WB: What are some of your favorite things about playing Santa Claus?

SR: First of all, I don't play. Most of us who do Santa, we look at it as a calling because making people happy. Bringing the joy is what I look for. It's what makes me so happy. Watching the kids jump up and down with joy, having their pictures taken, getting kids to remember what the reason is for the season and being able to celebrate it with everyone else - that's what keeps me going. I could have a bad day at my job and put my Santa Claus outfit on, go out and see the kids smile - that can make such joy in my heart.

WB: What do you enjoy most about "Breakfast with Santa?"

SR: Just all the kids together. It's great. I get to go in while they're just about ready to finish up with breakfast, I go around to all the tables and say hi to the kids. When the kids try to decide whether they want a picture with Santa or they want to finish their sausage - it's funny to see what they choose.

WB: What is the most common gift request Santa Claus receives?

SR: This year so far it's been one of the i Pods. That's a big thing nowadays because there's so much that even the kids can do. Otherwise in the past it varies from dolls or some sort of toys. The electronic ones are real popular now.

WB: How does Santa decide on his naughty or nice list?

SR: Well, for the most part I truly believe that kids are overall nice. There are a couple things that they do because they're kids. But kids are always nice.

WB: Do you ever get the children who are afraid of Santa?

SR: Oh yeah, lots of those. You just do the best you can. I try not to push it with anybody. If a mom really wants a photo with Santa and their kid is screaming, I'll do it, that's not a problem, but I just don't want to make the children feel uncomfortable.

What does Santa Claus want for Christmas?

I want a new sleigh.

WB: What does the rest of Santa Claus' year consist of?

SR: I'm a motorcycle rider. I enjoy going out and riding. It's beautiful out on two wheels. One of the let downs though after Christmas is that Santa gets put out the door. We kind of get blue.

WB: What's your favorite thing about Christmas?

SR: Being with family and sharing the joy. I am Catholic, so I believe in keeping Christ and Christmas and that feeling all year long. I try to spread that love and cheer all year - that's my favorite part. Whether it's December 25 or June 25, it should be the same.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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