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Stepping up my Santa game: Part One (Sleigh)


Wmcmanus
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My long run plan also includes a 24' long portable Santa "house" (built on a trailer to the maximum height 13'6" and width 9'), which will also double as the "garage" for my sleigh. But the house (Part Two of stepping up my Santa game) will have to wait until next year.  In the meantime, I have no clue where I'm going to store this sleigh, which is over 14' long (main body) and I'm not sure, maybe 9' or 10' high with the hood up.  

I'm not thrilled with my color choices.  The main body was intended to be a distinctive red, as opposed to an orange-red, so I may have it repainted once it arrives in Cayman.  Thinking something more on the lines of a candy apple red, but not sure.  Also, I like the idea of using black leather (as opposed to a forest green) as the trim color, but didn't really anticipate just how huge that hood would be!  The sides of the hood when it's up are like billboards, so I've got some big wreaths to hang on each side to break it up a bit.

The company that built it, http://coyaltix.com is located in Poland.  I just liked their work a lot more than anything I could find in the US, and the Euro is down so that helped to offset the higher shipping costs.  It will be coming in a 20' steel container, so not risk of damage in transit.  I'm also having them build a mini sleigh (coffee table size) that will be used more often than not as a photo prop (where kids can sit while Santa and mom and dad stand to the side or behind) with the big sleigh in the background.  

The mini sleigh will help to minimize the foot traffic on and off the big sleigh such that it doesn't get beat to shit in a couple of years.  You have to be an elf to go on the big sleigh... so sit on this little sleigh you little fucker and quit your bitching!  The mini sleigh should also help in terms of keeping the photo line moving along briskly at public events.  For any private events where clients are willing to pay a significant up-charge for the big sleigh, they can crawl all over it to their heart's content.  There will be logistics issues in terms of getting it out of storage and to an event on time, and then put back into storage afterwards, so I'll need another (elf) driver, such that I can move on to event #2 as the sleigh is returned to storage after event #1.

My Ford Edge has been repainted in the same color as the main body of the sleigh, so it will (most likely) have to be repainted to a true red as well.  The sleigh will ride on an 18' flat tilt bed tailer with a light duty winch installed in the front to avoid the need of gang pushing the sleigh onto the trailer every time it needs to be reloaded.  

One of my main corporate clients is already in the process of organizing a 6 hour event for the first Saturday in December, with the sleigh and 3 tons of crushed ice to create "snow" inside of a very large air conditioned tent.  There will be stage show featuring myself and my team (Mrs. Claus, Miss Claus, and several elves), kind of a "day in the lives of the Claus family" but the main theme will be Santa stressing over how his reindeer have abandoned him!  "I can't fly the sleigh without them!"  

Then a couple of reindeer will magically appear (real reindeer, imported for the day from a friend who runs a reindeer farm in Texas), and we'll have a petting zoo for a couple of hours.  The event will cost upwards of $20k to put on, so there will have to be an admissions charge.  But exciting, and it wouldn't have happened without the sleigh, so I'm already feeling good about this particular hole in the wallet.  Over time, it will pay for itself, in one way or another.  What the hell.  You only live once.



 

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Forgot to mention the carriage lamps, which haven't been installed yet.  A pair of the L4a up front and a pair of the L1a in the back.  The steel brackets for where they will be mounted are all in place on the sleigh.  The front lamps are just off to the sides and up a bit form the back of the passenger seat.

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Wow! I agree about the color. I think candy apple red would be good. Can you get it painted the same red as your suit?

Good thought, but I've got 7 suits at the moment, each with a matching royal robe, and one more suit/robe combo being made for this year... but this actually matches the suit I like the most in terms of design, but the least in terms of color!

I think candy apple red or something similar is in the future.  I just don't know if it makes sense for this year or not.  

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Lots of great comments.  Thanks!  I think the color will nag at me until I get it changed.  

To be honest, that was a communication issue that I actually created (ironically) by being fearful that there would be a communication issue if I asked them do do anything out of the ordinary.  I always wanted a candy apple red, but they're in Poland (which creates a slight language barrier, but not as severe as I feared) so I didn't want to complicate things unnecessarily.  I just looked at everything on their website for a color they had used on another project, and eventually found one that was "good enough" and said, "Give me this color."  Now I wish that I would have done my own color search from scratch, but this will be Ok, at least until I get it changed.

Part Two will be a Santa house built on a 24' trailer with a 5' private room (changing area, storage, and a place to sit while on break time) and a 19' main room that will double as the "garage" for the sleigh throughout the year.  When in use for events, the idea will be to arrive early to set everything up, which will mean pulling the sleigh out of the back of the house and setting it up as a roped off "prop" in front of the house.  Then close the rear ramp door and set up a Santa throne where the sleigh was.  
I'll have my own photographer, which will allow me/us to take in the "concessions" aspect of the business (rather than being paid a fixed hourly fee).  Will also have a couple of elf assistants to deal with photo sales (and t-shirts, coffee mugs and believer bells all featuring myself and the sleigh and/or house, but the merchandising will be limited so it doesn't become too tacky).

There will be an "in" door on one side of the house as far away from the Santa throne as possible (on the same side of the house that the sleigh is displayed, and where the crowd will gather), and an "out" door on the other side of the house.  This will allow the traffic to flow smoothly without the people waiting in line getting in the way of the photographer or the family being photographed.

I'm trying to figure out how to install a fold down section of one of the side walls, about 12' long, such that a mini "stage" could be set up.  The fold down wall would be supported by 4" x 4" legs that would be hinged to the upper part of the wall.  So the idea would be to release a couple of clips, and then ease down the side wall, 12' long and 8' high.  Then we can put on a "story time" type of stage show (Santa, Mrs. Claus, Miss Claus, and several elves) for about 45 minutes before closing the house back up and setting up the photo operation.  

That way, all of the kids get free entertainment, and they can come as often as they like, but they wouldn't necessarily need to wait for an hour or more for pictures.  The idea of the stage show would be to rotate through 4 or 5 different impromptu mini performances where the Claus family discussed various issues they are facing at the North Pole, trying to get ready for Christmas.  One could focus on the reindeer, another on the elves, another on toy making, etc.  But every night, it would be something different.  Do the shows on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings.  So there would be a Monday night show, maybe with different characters, as well as a different theme, than the Tuesday night show, etc.

Do this every week in December.  Then if demand builds, the next year you start during the last week of November.  Then each year, keep adding another week until you've over-saturated the market, or people start writing letters to the editor about "too much Santa, too soon" and how it's supposed to be about Jesus.  One of the "shows" will actually be about that very topic, so hopefully that will help to diffuse the Christian right push back. 

That would give me all day Saturday and Sunday (very busy days) to do my usual assortment of corporate events (with or without the sleigh and/or house), and during the week nights I could still do several family visits after the shows.  

Part of the "grand plan" is to allow Santa to not only become "real" but to become a "friend" to everyone in the community.  Once I have the house built, I'll have several new Santa suits made, in all sorts of colors other than red and white.  An outdoors "woodsman" look, a regal gold and cream look with brown fur... my "wish list" for the different outfits and color combinations I have in mind is practically endless.  But Santa is just like anyone else.  He doesn't, and shouldn't, wear the same clothes every single day!  Not if he's real...

But one step at a time.  Just glad that I finally pulled the trigger on the sleigh.



 

Edited by Wmcmanus
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