THE NORTH POLE (LEX 18) — Demand is sky-high for Santa's helpers, the jolly fellas who attend parties and go to the mall and ask kids what they want for Christmas this year.
One of Santa's local helpers tells LEX18 he's received 50% more calls than he used to during a usual year.
He has even had to turn down jobs.
"I'm not accepting all the opportunities that are offered to me because I don't want to run down," Santa's helper said. "And then I'll be of no value to anybody."
According to hiresanta.com, which connects Santa's helpers to events worldwide, the demand for their helpers is 120% higher than pre-pandemic levels.
"People are wanting to get out and about and do more things," hiresanta.com founder, Mitch Allen, said. "Things like tradition. The things that they missed last year, they're wanting to really enjoy them and experience it this year."
While demand is high, the number of helpers available is low.
"Santa is great!" Santa's helper said. "But the guys that substitute for Santa because he can't be everywhere at once are a little skeptical because a lot of them are older and a lot of them may not be in the best health."
Hiresanta.com has also found that some helpers are nervous to go out into crowded spaces due to COVID-19.
Allen said his company has 15-20% fewer helpers available this year.
Allen also said that some have decided to hang up the red coat this year. Others have passed away.
"Unfortunately, we've lost a number of Santa's helpers to COVID," Allen said. "It's really tragic."
Anyone interested in being a helper can visit here.
For those interested in hiring one of Santa's helpers, Allen suggests hiring now and being flexible with dates and times. He said some people have already started to book for 2022.
Not all places are experiencing this shortage. Lexington's Fayette Mall, for example, usually only has one of Santa's helpers available all season long.
He is heading down from the North Pole on Thursday and will be at the mall for an event starting at 4 p.m.