Ray Lindsey has always loved Christmas. The Corinth resident is the father of two grown children and grandfather to one grandchild. When Lindsey, who is retired after a career in manufacturing, is not busy with his Santa work, he spends time with his two mixed-breed Chihuahuas, Bella and Lillie. He enjoys sharing the traditions of Christmas with children.
Interviewed by Leslie Criss | Photographed by Joe Worthem
Q: How long have you been Santa Ray?
A: I have portrayed the Jolly Old Elf for 11 years. The first five years could be considered amateur performances for family, friends, church and charity events. By then, I was thoroughly wrapped up in the character of Santa Claus and ventured into the professional ranks of holiday performers.
Q: Did you go to school for training? What is the most important thing you've learned?
A: Yes Virginia, there really are Santa schools! I also belong to a number of professional networking organizations. While I have learned much about the nuts and bolts of portraying Santa, the most important thing I have learned is that Santa is a calling that comes from within. If it doesn’t come from his heart, then any Santa would be an imposter and not really part of the Brotherhood of the Red Suit.
Q: Do you keep your beard year round or just grow it as Christmas nears?
A: For me, being Santa is a year-round occupation. I am recognized almost daily as the Jolly Old Elf himself. My beard has remained in place for 11 years and counting.
Q: Is there a favorite story you can share of a child’s reaction to you?
A: I have many wonderful memories of encounters I have had with true believers of Santa. From wedding proposals to birth announcements to grand openings but especially from interactions with children. One of my favorite memories was from a home visit to a 3-year-old child. His parents had been struggling to wean him off a pacifier. Prior to my visit, I had mentioned to the grandmother that in Germanic countries children give their pacifiers to Santa who attaches them to his belt to never be used again. So I arrived at the home ready to help end the child’s dependence on his “paci.” Toward the end of my visit, I asked the boy if he could help Santa with a newborn elf at the North Pole who cried all of the time. What he needed was a pacifier but there aren’t any to be had in the frozen North. I asked the child if he would be willing to trade his pacifier for a special present from Santa and offered him a small box. When he opened the box there was a rubber duckie inside. He decided to make the swap and replaced the rubber duckie with his pacifier. Santa thanked the boy for being big and so brave for helping the baby elf, then quickly closed the box, stashed it in his Santa bag and said “Merry Christmas to all” on the way out the door.