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A KringleQuest.commentary

Saluting New York City's Santas

Each Christmas season, Joan Verdon, writing for the Record of Bergen County, NJ, hired between 65-70 parents and children from all over Northern New Jersey to choose the best Santa among that region's seven most popular shopping malls. For at least four of the 7 years during which these articles were written, KringleQuest followed Joan's picks; accordingly, we continued her tradition by rating ten popular New York area Santas. Those ratings were based on experience, comfort factor and approachableness. This unscientific survey was the result of KQ Founding Elf Richard Washington's own Santa experiences.

SOUTH STREET SEAPORT, 89 South Street, Pier 17: the late Roger Franklin was probably the jolliest, most gentle-hearted of the Santas visited. He was huggable, lovable, and you just couldn't beat his apron with all those batches of candy canes packed inside! Rating: Five candy canes.

MACY*S HERALD SQUARE, 151 West 34th Street: The Legend. Nobody knows how to follow the script like Macy*s Santa. He never breaks character, and you just are in awe of his presence. Rating: Three-and-a-half candy canes.

NATIONAL GRID U.S. HEADQUARTERS LOBBY, 1 MetroTech Center at Jay Street, Brooklyn: For nearly 50 years, the NatGrid Festival Chorus --- each and every member an employee of the company --- took over the NatGrid lobby to perform three shows' worth of Christmas carols, sung in an all-gospel format guaranteed to knock one's socks off. Until 2003, Santa Michael appeared at the climax of the third show, with Anna, his beautiful Elf, in tow (but you weren't allowed to touch her pointy ears!) and even encouraged the kids to sing along. Then, for two hours, Santa and his Elf had the lobby all to themselves! Wishes and cameras were always welcome. Rating: Three-and-a-half candy canes.

ABC CARPET & HOME, 881-888 Broadway at East 19th Street: The reigning elder statesman amongst New York's Kringles, he's the most authentically snuggable Santa of all those rated. His rustic robes give visitors the impression that they're in the presence of Christmas Royalty! Rating: Four candy canes.

KING MANOR MUSEUM, 15003 Jamaica Avenue, Jamaica, NY: Former radio DJ and King Manor caretaker/historian Roy Fox made for a very jolly and quite lovable Santa, possibly one of the absolute best in his region, was very chummy. His wisecracking demeanor left everyone laughing --- and, at the same time, he was incredibly gentle-hearted, as well. The small room near the Museum where Santa held court is sparsely decorated, but only just. Yet it was also perfect for a Kringle meet-and-greet and storytime with Santa as well. Cool! Rating: Four candy canes.

BLOOMINGDALE'S, 1000 Third Avenue: This Santa was somewhat roly-poly and quite eager to sit on his simple red velvet throne; the elf that Richard encountered at the time, however, was burly and female, and had mixed emotions over our Founding Elf's presence in the tiny fifth-floor enclave. Rating: Two candy canes.

LORD & TAYLOR, 424 Fifth Avenue at 38th Street: Until 2007, Lord and Taylor hosted Al Williams' performance as one of the City's more interesting, incredibly lovable weekend-only Santas; Al, with his two Elves, Jesse and Jose, both of whom were pretty much regular guys, never failed to enchant those in the know with an amazing series of behind-the-scenes anecdotes and unusual (but always kid-friendly) jokes about life in the world of an Elf in New York City! Rating: Three candy canes.

When this Editorial was originally posted, we rated these Santas from one to five candy canes, five being the best, one the worst. Once again, these findings were not a scientific examination of New York area Santas, but rather, the purpose of the segment was to attempt to share with you some of the special Kringles that were in part instrumental in the development of this website. If these Santas were able to inspire a little magic within you, we hope that you had the chance to tell them that you found out about each or all of them on KringleQuest.com!

As usual, of course, these are just my opinions. I could be wrong.

Sincerely yours,

RICHARD WASHINGTON

Senior Elf-in-Charge, KringleQuest.com Fourth Edition

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