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Friday, November 23, 2012 - Page updated at 08:30 p.m.

Santas study up as time for a little ho-ho-ho arrives

By Alan Berner
Seattle Times staff photographer

Part of an occasional series

There's so much more to being Santa than a full beard, a full body and some hearty ho-ho-hos.

For photos, it's hee-hee-hee to ensure a proper smile.

To prepare for the Thanksgiving-to-Christmas rush, more than two dozen professional Santas, a couple of Mrs. Clauses and one Grinch recently met at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, Thurston County, to discuss etiquette and handling inevitable situations.

Almost all are seasoned pros with real beards and their own suits. Trever Waltos, the youngest Santa, needed additional padding he bought online.

From now until Christmas, no garlic, says Waltos, co-organizer of the workshop. "Santa needs to have fresh breath." Peppermint candy is the aroma of Christmas.

Santa is in charge of his chair and the elf training — and properly trained elves are a must. They place the children on his lap, with infants the last to be loaded in group photos.

The elves adjust the dresses, never Santa. His white hands are always in sight on the shoulders of the youngsters seated upon his lap.

When the business at hand turned from rules to relaxation, the dress code was Santa casual at the lodge's water-park area.

That meant red-and-white-striped outfits for a group photo.

All had heeded Waltos' advice: "No Speedos for Santa."

Alan Berner: 206-464-8133 or aberner@seattletimes.com

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