Courtesy Photo Profile Self-Storage in Hooksett will once again host Santa Claus Dec. 5 to 8. Local children are welcome to visit, help make toys and even take a free toy home, as well as get their photo with Santa. Some may notice his resemblance to Hooksett’s Dick Marshall, but no one will say for sure. (Courtesy Photo)
Santa's gift - Children invited to visit St. Nick
On Dec. 5, 6, 7 and 8, from 6 to 8 p.m., Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus are going to be visiting Hooksett for their 13th annual workshop. With the North Pole being as busy as it is, the folks at Profile Self-Storage at 180 Londonderry Turnpike have once again agreed to set up a shop for Santa and about 40 of his elves to bring the spirit of the holidays to local children.
In an exclusive interview with Santa – after all, it is his busy season – he talked about how much he enjoys coming to Hooksett.
“Everybody’s so friendly, talking with each other,” he said. “They all want to come back next year.”
In fact, many of his visitors have come year after year. He’s seen brothers and sisters and cousins. It seems everybody wants to visit Santa!
If you’ve never been to his workshop, you should know that the visit is free. There are no gimmicks. He has three work stations in his shop with different elves that are helping to put together cars or planes or some other toy.
“And of course, they can take a toy with them, he said.
There is also another table where they make wooden Christmas ornaments that children can paint, as well.
For this workshop, he said he made all the toys himself back when he first started in Hooksett, when about 125 children would come visit. Now, with about 700 kids coming each season, “one person just couldn’t handle it,” he said, even if that person is Santa.
“We’re making toys all year long,” he said, and he has enlisted some local help, including a toymaker in Goffstown and another in Concord, some from a local church, and even a Santa’s helper in Arkansas who sends up 100 toys every year.
For just this Hooksett workshop, “we make about 2,000 toys a year,” said Santa, “and we give them away.”
The expansion of the workshop also necessitated the move from Dick Marshall’s garage to Profile Self-Storage. As the numbers of visitors increased, the owners of Profile, the Scarpettis, offered to host Santa’s workshop, free of charge.
“They have two of the brothers out there directing all the cars,” said Santa.
They also help with setup and “Ken Scarpetti takes a picture of every child who sits on my lap,” he said, and they’ve even emailed the photos to the parents when requested. “They’ve been super – I can’t say enough about them.”
For about eight years now, Santa has also held a special workshop through a Manchester-area organization helping with the special needs of children with Down syndrome.
By having a separate night, “I can get up and walk with them and introduce them to the elves,” said Santa. “It’s much better” having a special night for these children, he said, as it’s “too confusing and crowded the other nights.”
The confusion can be difficult for them, he said.
He fondly remembered last year when Miss New Hampshire and Miss Teen New Hampshire came to visit the workshop with the Down syndrome children, and the young women were sitting on the rug and talking with the children and playing with them, he said.
As much as Santa gives to the children who visit him, he also receives from them. This jolly old gentleman particularly remembers one young girl who came up, sat on his lap, and was asked the traditional question: “What would you like for Christmas this year?”
“Nothing,” she said. “I have everything. I have my family.”
In fact, Santa’s own family helps with his workshop. He proudly talked about his 13-year-old grandchild (one of five who help out at the workshop) who commented last year to one of the elves, “Do you realize how lucky we are to be part of this?”
Santa seemed gratified that his grandchild understood the importance of giving.
“That made me feel good,” he said.