Christmas looks very different in 2020 and there’s one very important man who has revealed he may be out of work altogether – Santa Claus.
Mike Mendoza, 72, has played the role of Father Christmas for nearly 20 years, bringing the Christmas spirit to people from Shoreham to Malta for seven days a week over the festive period.
But with current lockdown restrictions, Mike has been left with just a handful of events to attend, where he can bring joy to children.
The heartbroken Santa has even had to cancel a much-awaited appearance on The Polar Express in Devon.
According to Mike, Father Christmases across the UK can earn more than £10,000 over the holidays but many will be left without the bulk of their income.
The situation is so dire that Mike can’t see “any light at the end of the tunnel.”
“It’s going to be a very poor year for Santas,” he told The Argus.
“It is sad the kids can’t get that involved and depressing the income is gone.
“It’s very difficult for those who rely on this work. So many people who have lost everything can only work this month.
“We realised at the beginning of the year that this was going to be bad, the problem was that there didn’t seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel.
“There was always a little bit of hope it might have got better but with restrictions in the second lockdown, that hope has been dashed.”
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Mike has been left with just three days of work over the entire festive period for 2020, a far cry from last year when he brought joy to thousands of people after he was hired by the government of Malta.
He said: “In Malta, Santa is like the Pope, he’s not just for the kids, but adults too.
“I saw several thousand people over the time I was there.
“The first woman I saw said she wanted a baby for Christmas. I thought she was joking, so I said ‘I’m a bit busy at the moment, see me later’.
“I didn’t realise she was serious until more women asked for the same thing. One woman said ‘my baby is dying, can you give her life’.”
Mike said he is hoping to do some virtual Father Christmas meets and odd days across Sussex in an effort to recuperate some of his income and keep the Christmas spirit well and truly alive.
He added: “The idea is we need to make sure Christmas isn’t cancelled, let’s try to keep the magic going.
“Most garden centres have cancelled their Santa, however, I may very well do a little walk around to wave to the kids.”
When asked whether Father Christmas will still be delivering presents this year, he said: “Oh definitely, as long as the chimneys are nice, clean and clear and people are Covid compliant.”