By Barry F. Scher
Editor’s note: If Santa visits your house each year and you write him a letter every time, stop reading now. Really. This article contains certain Christmas secrets.
The story of Santa Claus can be traced back thousands of years to a monk named St. Nicholas. Historians believe Nicholas was born sometime around A.D. 280 in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey, and was much admired for helping the poor and sick. His kindness and generosity have inspired many to take up the mantle of Santa.
Modern-day Santas can be found in abundance from shopping malls to libraries and grocery stores, taking requests and collecting donations for charities. But in Chesapeake Country, the best Santa in the area, as declared by last year’s CBM Bay Weekly poll (https://bayweekly.com/best-santa-in-chesapeake-country/) resides in Santa’s Cottage, located next to Muse Paintbar in the Annapolis Town Center.
Rick Brady has been one of Santa’s top local ambassadors for the past three years and with his white beard and mustache, and perfectly round belly, he is the real thing—whether it is Christmas or not. This past summer while vacationing, he was approached by children on his cruise ship who let him know what they wanted for Christmas.
Brady takes it all in stride as he knows that children are always excited to see Santa, so he takes his role seriously whether dressed in his red outfit or casual clothes. “I get my energy from the children. Some are so excited to see me that they tackle me like a linebacker, and others are shy, but I can usually get them to open up and after a few minutes we are the best of friends,” he said.
At the Annapolis Town Center, a colorful, Disney-level Santa’s Cottage is the centerpiece for a professional family photo with Santa. Assisting him with his many daily guests are several elves including his Chief Elf (and daughter), Catherine Brady, who is the director of marketing at the Annapolis Town Center. This dynamic father and daughter duo helps bring the magic of Christmas to thousands of area children.
Annapolis Town Center’s Santa is much more than a seasonal gig, says Brady. “I study up on the latest toys, including dolls, so I can relate to the children. I even know some sign language and Spanish,” he said. “I treat each child visiting as if he or she is the only child I am seeing.”
This Chesapeake Santa has fielded all sorts of requests. One stands out in his memory. “A young girl told me she did not want anything for Christmas other than to receive a telephone call from her dad who was estranged from the family. That brief encounter was very emotional for me, so I subtly relayed her wish to her grandparents,” he said. “I’m always very careful though not to give any child any false hopes no matter what they wish for.”
Make a reservation to meet Santa by calling 346-573-5672. Walk-ins are accepted, too. The last day to see him is Dec. 23.