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A Day in the Life of Santa Claus - Guideposts
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A Day in the Life of Santa Claus

Meet Jon W. Sparks, a Memphis-based writer and actor who has dedicated himself to portraying ol’ Saint Nick.

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Meet Jon W. Sparks, a Memphis-based writer and actor who has dedicated himself to portraying ol’ Saint Nick. (Photos by Karen Pulfer Focht)

Jon W. Sparks as Santa; photo by Karen Pulfer Focht

1 of 7 “His Eyes—How They Twinkled!”

Memphis-based writer and actor Jon W. Sparks landed the role of Santa on the Polar Express Train Ride in New Orleans in 2016. Since then, he has played Santa every year. Or as one of the children he’s met said, “You’re Santa’s helper.”


Jon W. Sparks as Santa; photo by Karen Pulfer Focht

2 of 7 In Character

Jon trims his beard, and “Mrs. Claus” (Jon’s wife, Maritza) makes sure his suit isn’t wrinkled, his boots are shined and his hat is on just right. “White gloves,” Jon says, “are a must.”

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Jon W. Sparks as Santa; photo by Karen Pulfer Focht

3 of 7 Saint Nick at Night

What does Jon do if someone has the blues? “A good Santa understands people have sadness in their lives. My job is to spread joy and kindness.”


Jon W. Sparks as Santa; photo by Karen Pulfer Focht

4 of 7 To Give and Receive

“One time a boy with disabilities made a big booklet of Santa drawings and writings and said I had to have it,” Jon says. “It was hard to hold back my tears. Santa gets quite a bit out of these meetings too.”


Jon W. Sparks as Santa; photo by Karen Pulfer Focht

5 of 7 Through a Child’s Eyes

“The first duty of Santa is to children and how you relate to them,” Jon says. Many of his youngest visitors stare at him in wonder. Some older ones are so excited, they either can’t stop talking or are speechless.


Jon W. Sparks as Santa; photo by Karen Pulfer Focht

6 of 7 Spreading Cheer

Jon often prays before stepping out as Santa. “Santa has to be connected to all of humanity. Children are the purest forms of that humanity,” he says. “I pray for strength to react well to any situation or question.”


Jon W. Sparks as Santa; photo by Karen Pulfer Focht

7 of 7 Into the Woods

“Christmas is so much for the kids and about getting things, but it’s also about giving. Whenever we can get that message across, it’s good,” says Jon, pictured here at Cedar Hill Farm in Hernando, Mississippi.

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