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Thursday 15 December 2011

Real Santa Claus from Lapland in Sydney

The real Santa Claus flew into Sydney on Tuesday - and it's the first time the famed bearded one has ever visited Australia before Christmas Eve.

Santa’s sleigh and his faithful l'il reindeers flew into Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Target and UnitingCare’s Operation Santa Christmas Appeal.

The back story on the real Santa (warning, stop reading if you still believe Santa is, in fact real) is that every year in Gällivare, Lapland, Sweden, the official international ‘Santa Claus of the Year’ is chosen by an ‘Order of Santa’s’ during the Santa Winter Games.

Fourteen Santas including their personal assistants from countries such as Holland, Colombia, France, Japan and Germany compete for this coveted title, with qualifying rounds held in each country.

The 2011 winner is Stefan Veroude from Holland, who was anointed by the ‘Order of Santas’ and is officially Santa Clause for the following year.

One of the items on his agenda during his Sydney visit was to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge and select media was invited along. I am thrilled to say I was one of them and it was quite the trip (and just quietly, he has the most lovely, soft and young looking man hands I have ever seen... they must stock some seriously good hand cream in Lapland).

There were no favours for Santa - he still had to get suited up in the standard issue grey BridgeClimb suit over his regulation red outfit.

It was an experience of a lifetime. Although I have done a BridgeClimb before, it was just like the first time, and this time around it was pretty special to do it with such an iconic figure.

If you are yet to do a BrideClimb, I highly recommend it.

Turns out, Santa is also an impressive musical performer - he belted out some tunes on the summit of the Bridge - and he has sung with the likes of Andre Rieu.

Before the climb, Santa Claus said this will be the first time he has ever seen Australia in daylight. “I am going to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, visit some children in hospital and play with some kangaroos and koalas. Surfing on Bondi may be a little too adventurous. I am a little busy at this time of year”.

“We are so excited to host Santa Claus when he visits Australia,” added Dene Rogers, Managing Director of Target. “When it comes to international celebrities, there really is no one bigger at this time of year”.

“Christmas is the season for giving. Santa Claus would love all Australians to support the Operation Santa Christmas Appeal. In partnership with UnitingCare, and now in its 20th year, together we have distributed 1.7 million gifts to disadvantaged people in local communities. Donate a gift at Target and show Santa we all care”.

Sounds great to me!


Thursday 15 December - Sydney

Target Chatswood 10am - 11am
Target Castle Hill 12pm - 1pm
Target Eastgardens 2.30pm - 3.30pm
Target Miranda - 5pm - 6pm

Friday 16 December - Melbourne
Target Melbourne - 10.30am - 11.30am
Target Highpoint - 1pm - 2pm
Target Geelong - 5pm - 6pm

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