What happens when five Santas meet for lunch?

By on November 9, 2022

Our Santas from left to right: Doug Thompson, Al Glatkowski, Le Hook, Dick Anderson, Eric Roughton. (Photo credit: Kip Tabb)

Heartwarming stories and shoptalk from the North Pole

There was a gathering of the Santa Claus clan the other day at the Lost Colony Brewery in Manteo. Five local Santas met over lunch to review the upcoming season, share experiences and talk about years past. Eric Roughton is from Columbia in Tyrell County. The other four, Al Glatkowski, Le Hook, Dick Anderson and Doug Thompson, live in Dare County.

There was a lot of joy at the table and talk about different Santa suits, how to maintain them, where to buy boots, bells and everything else that goes into creating the Santa that children will believe in.

It is expensive being a Santa. Everyone at the table started with a borrowed or cheap (their word) Santa outfit. They quickly realized something better was needed and invested in an outfit that would better reflect who they were and how they wished to be seen.

Although they did not say specifically what they charge when appearing as Santa, the subject did come up.

“The hardest thing I think [for me] was to determine the value of what I’m worth or any of us. What is the value of what we’re bringing to everyone?” Glatkowski observed.

There were some funny stories as well, like the time Eric Roughton, who was the only clean- shaven Santa at the table, had his beard ripped off.

“I was wearing designer beard. This little girl, her little fingers caught in my mustache,” he said. “I was in a room by myself actually. We do only one family at a time. She ripped it up and I was like ‘oh my gosh.’ I didn’t have any glue. The only thing I had was super glue.” The situation ended with Roughton’s hand glued to his glove.

None of the Santas had ever planned to do this. Roughton, the youngest at the table, began his career 12 years ago when he was 17.

“I was always a bigger guy, so I thought it would be cool to be a Santa…I was in choir in high school. We had a Christmas concert, and they wanted a Santa to come out, so I bought a cheap suit, and I became the Santa for that night,” he said. “Then after that, I got invited to be Santa at the sheriff’s department for the second-grade field trip they had. And then a couple churches contacted me.”

“I was a high school teacher. So I had a love of kids and young adults,” Thompson said. “I was involved with theater at my high school, and I got to play a Santa Claus part. And little light came on. I was like ‘yeah, you could do this.’”

It is all about the children. That is something the Santas return to time and again. Glatowski recalled that one of the first times he was in his holiday suit was at a private party with no children.

“It was a real estate party, and I don’t like doing them. Never again, unless a lot of the children are there as well. That’s the rule, it has to have children,” he said

The clan agreed there are two most important qualities that every Santa must have are a love of children and the ability to focus on just the child. Those two skills bring an important reward.

“During that period of time [Christmas], I have the best job in the world,” Hook said.

There are also challenges that come with that, however. Most of the children come with a list in hand, anxious to talk to the big guy. But sometimes what they want most in the world is beyond the scope of Santa’s powers.

“You get the ones that want mom and dad to get back together,” Hook said. “When we had so many service people deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan that would be a frequent request. ‘I want my dad to be home for Christmas’ or ‘I want my mom to be home for Christmas.’ There’s not much you can do with that. I tell them…I’m going to pray for their safety, that they will eventually get back home to you safe and sound.”

Glatkowski recalled a particularly emotional visit when two children sat with him in Corolla.

“I asked them what they wanted for Christmas, and they wanted their mother who was fighting cancer to be alive,” he said. “That was their gift. I brought the mother over and had her sit with me. It was her and the two children. We talked and I stopped the entire line for about fifteen minutes…I listened to the mother, and she just was all in tears. And so I told them after she finished crying, I said, ‘Well, I can’t make those kinds of promises. But I will promise you this. She will be in my heart and thoughts every day.’”

Glatkowski said the story has a happy ending. The mother went into remission and a year later when he saw the children again, she was with them.

The stories, however, do not always have a happy ending. Dick Anderson was asked by a mother to spend some time with her young son.

“I was at the Peak Nursing Home and a mother came up to me and told me that it was going to be her son’s last Christmas,” he said. “I sat with this kid, and we just sat and talked about just about everything I could think of…He asked about reindeer and things like that…And when it was done, I gave him a big hug started to leave. The mother came over to me and you could see tears coming down my face.”

A recurring thought among this group is that as much as the children may receive from Santa, the Santas get more in return.

“The reality for me, is it has profoundly changed my life…What I get out of it has helped save my life. I don’t know any other way of saying it. It gives me a reward to be able to contribute something that they [the children] will always cherish and remember the rest of their lives,” Glatkowski said.

“We are we are myth carriers.” he added. “We are carrying on this myth and telling the stories.”





NOTICE TO CONTRACTORS:  BIDDER PRE-QUALIFICATION REQUEST:  Barnhill Contracting has been selected as the Construction Manager at Risk by Dare County and is seeking to pre-qualify construction trade and specialty contractors to submit bids for furnishing Labor, Material, Equipment, and Other for the new “Dare County – EMS 1 / Fire Station 14” (KDH) located in Kill Devil Hills, NC.  PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The scope of the project encompasses approximately 36,000 sqft of new construction and 18,000 sqft of demolition on a 3.5-acre site located at the 1630 N Croatan Highway, Kill Devil Hills, NC. The project includes masonry bearing walls supporting a Standing Seam Metal Roof over Light Gauge Trusses housing administrative, living and support spaces along with 6 apparatus bays. Principal trade and specialty contractors are solicited for the following Bid Packages: BP750 – Turnkey Siding. Additional Packages may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager. Historically underutilized business participation is encouraged. Interested contractors should submit their completed prequalification submittals to Meredith Terrell by December 2, 2022, via email at mterrell@barnhillcontracting.com or mail to PO Box 31765 Raleigh, NC 27622 (Office Location – 4325 Pleasant Valley Road, NC 27612). PREQUALIFICATION FORMS CAN BE OBTAINED from BuildingConnected through this Invite under the “File” tab or from BuildingConnected link on the Barnhill, Bidding Opportunities website at app.buildingconnected.com/ by selecting “Dare County – EMS 1 / Fire Station 14 – Prequalification”, or by contacting Meredith Terrell mterrell@barnhillcontracting.com  (919-604-2367). Please submit completed prequalification forms A and B along with all required supporting documentation and with All Bid Packages you are Prequalified for Checked. Form B must be submitted for this project. Form A is good for 1-Year and if you have submitted one to Barnhill within the last year, it should still be valid. If you are unsure, please verify this with Meredith. Target Bid Date: January 2023



  • Miss Donna Roark

    We are so thankful for the Christmas light and joy these wonderful Santas bring to children in the area! Bless you all!

    Wednesday, Nov 9 @ 2:15 pm
  • Casey Mae

    That is so cool! Mr. Thompson was my history teacher in high school! And my government teacher in summer school. He was one of the best teachers I’ve ever had.

    Wednesday, Nov 9 @ 2:30 pm
  • Glenn

    Beautiful stories…thanks for sharing them. And, thanks to these “Santas” and Santa’s helpers all over the world that help keep the spirit of Christmas alive! God bless you all!

    Wednesday, Nov 9 @ 5:04 pm
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