Cape Cod Santa Embodies Christmas Spirit 365 Days a Year


Throughout the world, a kind-hearted man who delivers presents by rooftop is known to many as Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, or even Kris Kringle, but Cape Codders have come to know him by a different name. Cape Cod Santa, his legal name Scott F. Calkin, is a Hyannis resident who can often be found at Santa's Workshop in Mashpee Commons or at the Cape Codder in Hyannis, eager to listen to children's Christmas wishes.

It is no wonder why this Santa, recognizable by the starfish on his floppy red hat, was listed as one of the 11 best Santas in the country by Time Magazine's holiday newsfeed this month.

"Santa does many things. He's not just having a child sit on his lap," Mr. Calkin said.

Although some days he can be found doing just that, he said that most of his time is spent volunteering for Santa America, an organization that matches Santas with families facing physical or emotional crisis.

"I see Santa as being a 365-days-a-year job," he said.

Mr. Calkin described his work visiting military bases to welcome soldiers home from overseas deployments, volunteering for the American Red Cross and Hope Hospice, an organization that provides specialized care for patients with life-changing illnesses.
Currently, he is visiting seven families for Hope Hospice, including a young girl whose body is rejecting recent heart and liver transplants. "There's no hope for her," he said. "When you visit these kids, you realize that you're the only thing that can make their day."

"I see Santa as being a 365-days-a-year job," he said.

Mr. Calkin's passion and enthusiasm for the work that he calls "retirement" make it clear that Cape Cod Santa is more than a suit. He embodies the father figure that children across the world learn to love and to fear, a man with a gentle spirit and an open heart for each child he meets.

When asked about his favorite part of being Santa, Mr. Calkin said, "To me it's seeing the excitement on children's faces. You don't know what they're going to say to you."

While he said that some children approach him knowing exactly which items they want for Christmas—an iPad, the latest computer, or a pair of UGG boots—others vocalize less material desires.

"I had one little girl sit on my knee and she said, 'I want airplane tickets.' I asked, 'What do you want airplane tickets for, do you want to go on vacation to Disney World?' She said, 'No, I want airplane tickets so I can go to Florida to see my daddy, because my mommy and daddy are divorced.' "

Like this one, each story he encounters is unique. And each has contributed to his own life story, tracing back to the moment that his 13-year-old self began to dress up as Santa Claus for extra cash, in a red suit that his friend's mother designed for him. "I would go out to the local 5 & 10 and buy little stuff to give out, and, of course, I didn't make enough to cover what I bought," Mr. Calkin said, laughing.

Years later, his career in the Navy brought him to Vietnam. After returning home safely and starting a family, Mr. Calkin said he was finally able to "set goals and see those goals come to light" when he decided to pursue his lifelong goal of being Santa.

Since then, Cape Cod Santa has made appearances at the Cape Cod St. Patrick's Day Parade, the Yarmouth Seaside Festival parade, and Nantucket's annual Christmas Stroll, for which he arrived on a Coast Guard cutter.

Perhaps Mr. Calkin's pure heart is matched only by a natural beard, registered with the official National Beard Registry as number 7833.

However, he said, "When it comes to bleaching, I do that myself. I don't trust anyone."

To find out more about Cape Cod Santa, visit


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