PORTALES, N.M. (KRQE) – Some may wonder how does someone become Santa Claus? One Santa shares how New Mexico helped him to be who he is today.
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More than 20 years ago, Bob Norman and his wife owned a hardware store in Babylon, New York. He shares, “People said to me, ‘you would make a great Santa.’ Back then, my beard was not as white as you see it right now.”
That’s where his career as Santa Claus started. “I said, ‘what better place to do it but right in the hardware store?’ So I started. People started coming in, next thing I know years later, I’m taking off going to people’s houses.”
Then in 2014, Santa Bob joined Storybook Experiences which is an interactive photography session. “The joy you get from these children. For whatever reason. It could be the hardships that they’re going through and the joy they receive right then and there with me and with other Santas.”
So what ties does Santa Bob have to New Mexico? He went to Eastern New Mexico University. He was a communications and theatre major but that’s not all.
“When I got out there I blossomed. It took a few years but it was just wonderful. I was student body president at Eastern. I was very actively involved in the government there,” says Santa Bob.
While at ENMU, Santa Bob made his mark. He was involved in lobbying a referendum to allow alcohol sales in Portales. He explains, “Some friends and I were very instrumental in turning Portales from a dry town, because the last time I was there the county didn’t go wet, but Portales did.”
Like many industries, COVID has impacted how Santas have to interact with people. “I know more and more Santa Clauses are doing things like you and I are doing right now. They’re Zooming out to children around the world.” Santa Bob says for the last two years, they’ve worn plastic masks in order to keep everyone safe.