Santa Russ Gordon, Guest Instructor
During his long career in the army, Santa Russ, then known as Chaplain Gordon and Pastor Russ, had the opportunity to speak with soldiers and families who were facing difficult situations. In 1982 he came off active duty and attended Jacksonville State University, then Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he earned a master's in divinity. Over the next few decades he taught, pastored, and worked as a government contractor. Gordon stayed in the Army Reserves for 22 years, until he retired in 2004.
Russ had been playing Santa for as long as he could remember, but on Christmas morning, 2011, Russ Gordon and his wife sat down at the counter of their local Waffle House for a meal that would end up changing their lives forever.
They were seated next to a child with red hair, accompanied by his grandfather. The child surprised Gordon when he thanked him for the gifts he had received earlier that day. It didn't take long for Gordon to figure out what had happened. The child had mistaken him for Santa Claus. "What was your favorite?" Gordon replied, playing along. "All of them", the child said. The moment would go on to be remembered as one Gordon had been anticipating for years - a moment in which he felt a calling to become Santa Claus.*
Santa Russ has been a professional Santa ever since, appearing each season at company parties, church and charity events, family gatherings, private parties, home visits and photo sessions. He lives in Hartselle, Alabama with his wife Linda of the Sewing Elves.
In his time at NLSA, he will be sharing his thoughts on the subject of how to best deal with the pain and trauma we encounter in children's lives as we portray the character of Santa Claus.
*Excerpts taken from: Hrynkiw, Ivana, "Meet Alabama's real-life Santa Claus", Real Time News from AL.com, December, 2015.
Based out of the metro-Atlanta, Georgia area, the Northern Lights Santa Academy serves Santa Clauses, Mrs. Clauses and Santa's Helpers in the Southeastern United States, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. For more information about our Santa school, please contact us.
Northern Lights Santa Academy
PO Box 29160
Atlanta, GA 30359