Some Iowa parents may be hesitant to take their kids to see Santa Claus at the busy shopping mall this year, for fear they might be more susceptible to H1N1 flu. Anne Gaskell is the founder and CEO of a Sioux City-based business that arranges personal phone calls to kids from Santa himself, which she says is a much healthier alternative.
“There’s a lot of little kids out there fighting the sniffles and Santa’s right there having them sit on his lap and maybe when they’re not using a Kleenex, Santa could catch that flu, yes” Gaskell says, laughing. “Santa by phone is a lot safer.” Gaskell’s business, Santa Speaking, says they’re seeing a 35-percent increase in the number of calls scheduled this December compared to a year ago. Gaskell, a mother of three kids under age nine, explains why she created the company to coordinate the long-distance calls from the North Pole.
“Standing in line at the mall seemed to be a little terrifying for a couple of my children and when they got to the front of the line, Santa didn’t know all that he was supposed to know,” Gaskell says. “Kids can be quite frightened of sitting on Santa’s lap. They have that stranger anxiety or Santa anxiety at a certain age and I thought there had to be a better way to make Santa more representative of his legend, of being the all-knowing Santa figure.” Gaskell says with the service her company provides, kids can talk with Santa directly without having to stand in line at the mall, and without needing hand sanitizer.
Parents can go onto the website and schedule a convenient date and time for the phone call while providing details like the names of friends, family members and teachers and the favorite types of toys they like playing with, Gaskell says, all of the nitty-gritty details, topped off by whether they’ve been naughty or nice. Depending on the length of the call and whether parents want the conversation recorded and sent to them on CD or MP3, the cost of the calls ranges from $22 to $50. For details, visit “www.santaspeaking.com“.