Over 300 ho-ho-hopefuls vie for Rome Santa job

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Over 300 Santas vied for the job in Rome. Photo: Leon Neal/AFP
12:03 CET+01:00
An unemployed man from a town near Rome fended off competition from over 300 rivals to be hired as Father Christmas at a shopping centre in the east of the capital. But the job isn't always a barrel of laughs, or so professional Santas say.

It wasn’t just a matter of 61-year-old Claudio Rachiale donning a red outfit and white, fluffy beard to get the job.

In fact, the “perfect look” was the least important requirement for the role.

Along with the other applicants, including dozens of professional Santas, Rachiale had to undergo a tough casting process, the sort usually reserved for films and television.

Apart from having to be over the age of 60, those screened for the job at Roma Est shopping centre also had to show some flair for storytelling and improvisation.

Rachiale was offered the job after giving the best answer among the 10 shortlisted Santas to the question: “How would you enter a house if it doesn’t have access via a chimney?”

Sergio Ravanelli, the director of Kimbe, the Lombardy-based events company that organized the casting, told La Stampa that over 300 people had applied for the job, which pays €2,000 for 11 days work.

Among them were 65-year-old Giuseppe Benavoli and Liborio Di Martino, 64, who had both worked as Father Christmas before.

The role of chirpy Santa might sound as if it comes with nothing but good cheer as joy is brought to excited children in the run-up to Christmas, but both said it’s a challenging job.

Di Martino offered one or two pearls of wisdom: “The salary seems high, but you need to know what you’re expected to do,” he told La Stampa.

“For example, they might ask you to deliver presents – in which case, you’ll have to think about the petrol needed for the car. What if they expect you to be outside all day, in the cold of December? And is the stated salary before or after tax?”

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Benavoli said “it’s not easy being Father Christmas", particularly as "children nowadays are much more savvy".

"They ask you where the reindeers are and what we have for them to eat," he added.

“Last year there was a girl who insisted on waiting around until closing time to see where I would go. Having told her that reindeers would come and get me, being seen getting into my car would have raised the question of credibility. In the end, I asked the store’s staff to distract her while I tried to slip away.”

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