Great Big Story traveled to Midland, Michigan to visit the Charles W. Howard Santa School, the longest running Santa school in the world. Like a previous visit to a different Santa school, Great Big Story toured the festive classrooms where lots of jolly bearded men (and some non-bearded women) were learning such skills as toy making, train riding (Polar Express-style), grooming hygiene and even exercise classes with palpable comradery. The school began in 1937 and has trained thousands of aspiring Santas, each and every one of them graduating and going out into the world with the distinct shared mission of making people happy.
There’s a real sense of camaraderie in this school. It’s like this large Santa family. Together they share stories, they learn from each other. We want to be Santas to make people happy. When we get together we’re making each other happy. I love it. … When you give joy you get it back tenfold.