Santa Russ Gordon, 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.

*Excerpts taken from: Hrynkiw, Ivana, "Meet Alabama's real-life Santa Claus", Real Time News from, December, 2015.


Based out of the metro-Atlanta, Georgia area, the Northern Lights Santa Academy is the largest Santa school in the Southeastern United States, serving Santa Clauses, Mrs. Clauses and Santa's Helpers in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, as well as throughout the country. For more information about our Santa school, please contact us.  

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Northern Lights Santa Academy

PO Box 29160

Atlanta, GA 30359