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February 18, 2010

Auckland's Santa Claus

Auckland SantaAn icon of the Auckland Christmas holiday season is the "Farmers' Santa Claus". First hoisted on the side of the "Farmers" department store on Auckland's Hobson Street in 1960, these days he gets his seasonal outing on the side of Whitcoull's Bookstore at the corner of Queen and Victoria Streets, a much more favorable location in terms of the thousands of daily admirers on foot on Queen Street. It also gives Santa a better view of who is being naughty or nice.

My first encounter with the Farmers' Santa Claus was on a visit to "The Farmers" with my grandfather when I was 14 years old. Although I had stopped believing in "Father Christmas" just the year before that, I was so enthralled by his winking eye and beckoning finger, that I marched into the store, sat on Santa's knee, collected a balloon, and proceeded to spend all my Christmas money at the Farmers!

Since a face lift before his Christmas 2009 outing, his wink and beckon have been stilled. No reason given, but could it be that keeping a well-oiled wink and beckon is bound to see Santa back on the cosmetic surgeon's table all-too-soon? After all, according to this article "Santa Claus is Coming Back to Town" in The Aucklander, his eye would wink seven times a minute, or 6720 times a day, and his finger would beckon 27 times a minute, or 25,920 times a day. The real reason, we all know, however, is that Santa needs to reserve his energy for all those deliveries that need to be made on Christmas Eve to children the world over.

Whatever the reason, my tribute to Auckland's Farmers' Santa is to give him a grungy treatment along with slightly washed-out coloring, a perfect match to my jaded memories of him these 38 years later!

Actually, I really still do believe in Father Christmas!

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