COUDERSPORT — The Coudy Santa is offering a little Christmas magic to give kids a glimmer of hope during the coronavirus pandemic.
Coudy Santa, as portrayed by Pete Wyatt, is setting up appointments with parents to call or video chat with kids.
He’s been known as the “Coudy Santa” for years, after attending Santa School in Torrington, Conn. to learn proper Santa decorum, how to book gigs, where to get authentic clothes, how to address sensitive requests, among other things. He does many events locally, as well as in North Pole, N.Y. and at a Winter Festival at Six Flags’ Great Adventure, near Trenton, N.J.
The idea came about when a family member was babysitting and asked Wyatt if he’d be willing to call the child and talk to him as Santa. He agreed and suited up for a video chat with her and the child.
“It went over great. They just loved it. So afterwards, I was thinking, ‘I bet there are a lot of kids who would get a kick out of a call from Santa right now after being cooped up,’” Wyatt said.
He can Facetime, video chat through Facebook Messenger or via Skype. If someone doesn’t have a device capable of video, Wyatt said he can call a child on the phone, and later send a video message thanking the child for talking to him.
So far, he’s video chatted with eight kids. He said he talks to them for about 10 minutes, which he says is usually enough.
Prior to the video chat, he tries to gather some information that he authentically can bring up. He said he knew there was a bear in one kid’s backyard, so during the call he asked if they were playing in the snow. The kid said there wasn’t any snow outside, and Coudy Santa replied by saying, “Well that’s a terrible time now, that’s when the bears come out looking for food.”
Coudy Santa tells kids he’s “up at the North Pole.”
“I tell them, ‘You know what I have the elves doing? I had them stop making toys — they can make toys later — and I have them making these.’ and I put on a face mask,” Wyatt said. He said the kids get a kick out seeing Santa wearing a face mask.
Wyatt said he doesn’t usually “discipline” children or tell them what they need to start doing, including during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Santa’s not the disciplinarian of the house,” Wyatt said. He leaves that up to the parents.
To set up a video chat with Coudy Santa, text Wyatt at 814-655-6319 to make arrangements. He has appointment slots between 10 a.m. and noon every weekday.