Newest member of Herriman City Council: Santa Claus?Dec 02, 2022 01:00PM ● By Justin Adams
By Justin Adams | [email protected]
You may have been a little confused to see a man with a long white beard during Herriman City Council meetings recently. No, that’s not an old man who was just added to the council. It’s just Councilmember Teddy Hodges, who has been growing out and (and dyeing) his beard in preparation for another season as a Santa impersonator.
“Santa runs his business just like any other business. He’s the CEO, and he has lots of other managers, area managers, district managers, employees, etc. That’s how he’s able to get all the information together so then on Christmas Eve he can deliver,” explained Hodges, who has been one of those employees for the past 15 years.
It all started when he was on a service trip to Ensenada, Mexico with a group from BYU. They were visiting an orphanage and had scheduled a Santa impersonator to come help out. That person didn’t show and so they improvised.
“We had a wig and a hat. I had a red sweater on and I had the stature, so I did it,” Hodges said. Being able to hand out bags of both essential items and toys to those kids was such an “amazing experience,” Hodges continued to assume the role in subsequent visits for four years.
Of course, word got around that he was pretty good at the job, and he was soon donning the red coat and beard back home for family events. Which then led to being asked to do other events, everything from corporate parties to nonprofit events. And thus, a Santa impersonator was born.
“I just love it,” he said. “When you put that suit on, you’re the epitome of the awesomeness and magic of Christmas.”
It’s a role that Hodges takes very seriously. He grows out and dyes his own natural beard, a process that costs several hundred dollars and requires hours of weekly upkeep.
“It’s pretty intense,” he said. “I have to tone it every week, or week and a half. I’ve got all this tin foil and plastic on my face…”
But being Santa is more than just donning his appearance.
“Just because you have a red suit and a beard on, doesn’t mean you can be Santa. It’s kind of like the Grinch, your heart needs to be three sizes too big,” he said.
To help himself “become” Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick, Hodges adopts some of the strategies of the famous method actors of Hollywood.
“I’ll go straight from work to a Santa gig and I have to make that switch. You eat Peppermint candy. You listen to Christmas music and sing along. You look kind of crazy to people if they see you,” he said.
It becomes a lot easier to maintain the impersonation once he’s in front of a crowd.
“They’ve got Christmas music going, they’ve got warm cookies, they have all the embodiments of Christmas. Then the crowd is all amped up and there’s lots of interaction, it’s amazing,” he said.
Of course, it isn’t always a fun and easy job. Last year, he admittedly got a little burnt out after booking 74 gigs.
“You’re out, sometimes late hours. The roads and weather aren’t always great, so my wife worries when I go out to gigs that are further away. It’s stressful on everybody,” he said.
Luckily, Hodges’ family is very supportive of his Santa-moonlighting. His 10-year-old daughter often accompanies him and his wife helps him think of ways to be a “better” Santa.
For example, a few years Being very passionate about mental health and suicide prevention, they realized that it might not be the best idea to instill in kids’ minds that they fall in either a “good” or “bad” category.
“All kids are good, they just don’t act good all the time. So when parents use that as a discipline thing… I just don’t love that,” he said.
Instead of “Naughty or Nice,” Hodges instead focuses on kindness. “If you’re a kind person, you can have a bad day,” he said.
To help promote that idea, he’s kept $2 bills in his pocket so when he’s at a gig or somewhere in between and witnesses a kind act, he can pull one out and give it to the kind do-gooder. This year he’s also introducing Kindness Coins - custom coins engraved with the words, “Caught Being Kind.” His hope is to continue handing them out in the coming years and also gather stories of kindness from the community and make a little book out of them.
While most of his gigs are for private events, Hodges’ Santa will be making an appearance at a few public events this Christmas season:
Photos in the Park
Sunday Dec. 4 from 1-3 p.m. at Herriman Village Park (13236 S Woods Park Dr)
Donations accepted for local families
Photos at ‘The Up House’
Saturday, Dec. 17 from 12:30 to 4 p.m. at ‘The Up House’ (13218 S Herriman Rose Blvd)
$10 fee for photos, all proceeds go to the Road Home
For folks interested in booking Hodges’ services for next year, they can do so through his website, www.bookutahsanta.com.