Northwest Wanderings | Russ Long does his holiday-season work at the Space Needle in a one-of-a-kind suit made just for him — the only Space Santa the Needle has ever had.
The Biddicks and Johnsons pile into Santa’s rocket ship, with fins that recall a 1959 Cadillac.
There’s barely room left for Santa.
The wants-and-wishes begin to fly. One wants a puppy. Another three cats.
There’s a request for a grandchild, an Apple Watch and, finally, peace on Earth.
It’s takes more than a red suit, a white beard and a trio of “ho’s” to be a good Santa.
For Santa Russ Long, “It’s a calling.”
“I can’t take off my beard. I can’t take off my Santa persona.”
Year-round, he drives a red car, wears red shirts and lives in a red house.
He does his holiday-season work at the Space Needle in a one-of-a-kind suit made just for him — the only Space Santa that the Needle has ever had.
Two elves help. They’re there not just to give out candy canes, but also for support and crowd-control.
Getting ready in the dressing room, elf Alister Stern pops the door to let Santa know it’s time to go.
Santa Russ says, “The biggest thing I try to do is get eye contact and actually listen.”
He cannot promise anything but says,“That’s a great list. We’ll see what we can do.”
The family members, most visiting from Minnesota and Wisconsin, all wear matching red sweaters on this rainy Saturday morning. Later, they’ll root for Wisconsin to win the Big Ten football championship.
Santa Russ says the first couple of weeks his cheeks are sore from smiling.
One elf asks, “Are you wearing blush, Santa?”
A member of IBRBS, the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas, he says “There’s a Santa in all of us. We’re all capable of love and giving.”