Finding Santa in Cedar City

By Dawn M. Aerts

Iron County Today

CEDAR CITY–If you look for him in the yellow pages, there won’t be a listing. If you ask for an address from the post office will anyone take you seriously? Have you tried to text him lately? Incognito.

Nevertheless, I thought, a proper Santa interview was long overdue.

I’m not talking about just any of the red suits that arrive at the local mall with a little bag of candy canes and a green-elf to assist. No, I was hoping to chat with the real Mr. Claus, the one with the reindeer, that hops down the chimney, eats the cookies, who calls “up north” home. So I made a few calls and had a few leads.

Cedar City, be there.

I’m not a kid anymore, so anyone below the age of 11 should not read the story about locating a certain local part-time Santa. I don’t like the fakers that try to pull you into their ho, ho, ho holiday cheer with a bell. And faking anything: a craving for fruitcake or noisy sleigh bells raises my skeptical eyebrow. As in north-pole fairy dust: we all know it comes right out of a craft store.

So who should come to my attention but Scott Fotheringham (a.k.a. Father Christmas) as he made an appearance at the Frontier Homestead Park last week. (Not the place I would sit handing out candy canes if I knew a worldwide deadline was a mere 14 days away). Sure, this one looked real and talked like he had been around more than a few Christmas trees, but was his beard real? Did he talk with a Finnish accent?

This was a very big guy: long silvery-white beard, dashing red suit, chatting with one green elf girl (check). But no roasted chestnuts or reindeers tied up to the rail (check). At any rate, I wanted that mostly elusive interview and it came to me that Cedar City would be just about the perfect town to set up shop – a central location where people still believe in Santa.

That’s where Fotheringham comes in.

Not only is he a picture perfect Santa, with four years of experience under his big belt, but I have to admit — even I became slightly convinced after spending an hour with him toe-to-toe. So I totally understand why small, impressionable kids would be excited to share the vision of the gifts they hope will (against the laws of gravity and logic), somehow appear under their tree. Note to parents: wrapping paper and ribbons totally unnecessary.

The Interview:

“So what is it you would like to know about Santa,” he asked — with a booming but comforting voice that would be difficult if not impossible for any fake St. Nick to master.

“Well, I’d like to know how You came to visit Cedar City among all the towns in North America?” I asked this hoping to suppress my fascination with the billowing tummy and flowing locks of a real silver-beard. “I mean, how is it that you can be so busy this time of year with local appearances, but still deliver all those packages around-the-world?”

He knew he had one dubious reporter waiting for something more than candy canes.

“Well I have lots of help,” he retorted without missing a holiday beat. “Oh yeah, the reindeer and the elves and such,” I said, knowing that I had virtually trapped him in his Santa Claus-sentence. “No, it wasn’t them,” Fotheringham said of the obviously missing sleigh and multiple elves.

“Just between you and me, I couldn’t bring anything without a lot of love and kindness.”

Oh sure, here it comes… As my mind danced about with sugar plums, toy soldiers and the cost of the typical photo-package with the big guy, I had to follow up. “Oh, so it’s about generosity, is it?” I knew I had him in a twirl without any reindeer hoof-prints to cover his Santa Claus tracks.

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