49 Voices: Santa Claus

This week we’re hearing from Santa Claus [Dan Bale]. On occasion he can be seen at Anchorage’s Bass Pro Shop listening to children’s wish lists during the holiday season.

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Santa Claus [Dan Bale] at the Anchorage Bass Pro Shop (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media)
CLAUS: I was a Bush pilot in Alaska for 40 years. I’ve got 18,000 hours of flying around here. It’s a job that depends upon your skill, not so much as somebody else’s. Some of the only places I ever had to talk on the radio to land was in Anchorage. If you get out of town, there’s not tower, there’s no weather reporting. Most weather stations are a couple hundred miles apart.

I tell kids now all I get to fly is the reindeer. I tell people I grew into the position. It’s just something I one day decided I wanted to do. The beards real, and the kids test it. They grab a hold and pull. What makes me the happiest is the kids that run right up to me and go, “Santa!” There’s one young lady that’s been seeing me every year for years, and every year she asks for nothing for herself. Every year she asks for good things for people – food for the people that are hungry and help with doctors for the people who are sick. She never asks for a single thing for herself. It brings a tear to my eye. I’m sorry, it does. And I’m pretty hardcore. (laughs)

There’s more that are hanging out in Fairbanks, but I don’t know that they’re all as well traveled as this Santa. Like I said, that was a road less traveled but it was sure a lot of fun.