Tales of a mall Santa
Manawa man shares Christmas spirit
By Holly Neumann
Brian Busby, of Manawa, is spending this holiday season putting smiles on the faces of children.
He is working as a mall Santa in Burlington, Iowa.
“I have been mistaken for Santa for a few months now, so I figured why not,” said Busby, who wears long white hair and a beard.
According to Busby, he does not just get into “Santa mode” for the job.
“Being Santa, if you truly believe in what you’re doing, and knowing the good you are doing for the kids, it’s Santa mode for me all the time,” he said. “You never know when a child is going to call you out, so you have to be Santa all the time. You are a role model.”
Busby admits that there are some challenges that come with the job.
“This is my first year as Santa,” he said. “Each child is so different.”
“The hardest part of the job is kids asking to bring mom and dad back, if they are deceased,” Busby said. “Or back together, if divorced.”
Along with the challenges, Busby quickly points out some of his favorite moments as well.
“A young lady approached and said, ‘I want Berenstain bears,’” Busby said. “But then said, ‘You won’t have to get me this Santa, I saw my mom looking at it on Amazon.’”
One of his most moving moments came from a little boy.
“One child approached me big smile and I asked his name, then his age like I always do, and then the big question, what do you want for Christmas?,” Busby said.
After hearing the boy’s list, Busby asked if there was anything else he wanted.
With encouragement from his Grandmother, the boy had one more request.
“I want you to say hi to my mom,” said the child.
Busby questioned where the child’s mother was, the boy’s answer was heaven.
“I felt everything stop for a few short seconds trying not to be overcome by this,” Busby said. “The boy continued that he lost his mom when he was 3.”
Busby recalled seeing the boys’ eyes starting to well up with tears and had to think quickly about what to say.
“You know she is always watching over you and loves you so much,” Busby told the boy. “You are so loved by family, friends, grandma and grandpa and don’t forget me, the elves and reindeer as well. It’s OK to be sad, it shows how much you love as well.”
Busby said a little prayer for the boy as he disappeared into the mall.
He hopes that young and old alike take away the Christmas spirit after visiting with him.
“To me it’s all about being a kid, like you and I were once upon a time,” he said. “I hope people take away Christmas spirit from their visit. True spirit, not the shopping spirit. Let’s bring back that excitement again, we all need it.”
To read more about Busby and his tales as a mall Santa, visit his Facebook page.