Santa season: St. Nicholas stirs up magic and business at the mall

All they have to do is visit their nearest mall or holiday event where Santa will be, wait patiently in line with their child in a wintery wonderland and pay very close attention as their son or daughter whispers to Santa the most perfect present they could ever receive.

SIDEBAR: A chat with Santa

By Ariana Cohn, Spotlight Staff

When it comes to Christmas gift requests, Santa has heard it all. In an exclusive interview with Spotlight Newspapers, Santa discussed some of this year's wackiest wants.

Question: What is the strangest thing a child has asked you for this year?

Answer: Snakes and little newts. This one little girl said she wanted a snake. I said, "Oh, a stuffed one?" She said, "No. I want a live one."

Q: What did you say to the little girl who wanted the snake?

A: I said that I am going to try [to get it for her]. I never say no. I always say I will try to do it.

Q: Any other unusual requests?

A: There's another little girl -- all she wanted was a telescope. She said she wanted to be an astronaut.

Q: What are some things that have been popular this season that kids have asked for?

A: I had a 16-year-old that told me she wanted an automobile. Some other interesting gifts I've had 4- and 5-year-olds that told me they wanted a cell phone! There are a lot of electronics this year. The iPods are quickly selling. I don't know if it will happen that every [child] who asked for one will get one.

Q: What about children who ask for non-material things?

A: Once in a while I get those asking for a brother that's sick. And the brother comes with the child, and he may be ill. Some of them are in wheelchairs and I ask the mother if I can pray for them and I do that.

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