PAWTUCKET — Want to whisper your Christmas “wish list” to the same Santa who lends an ear to the likes of Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian and other Hollywood celebrities? Stop by the Blackstone Valley Visitor Center at 175 Main St. on Monday from 6 to 7:30 p.m., where “Santa to the Stars,” also known as Brady White, will be making his annual appearance.
Visitors are encouraged to bring their own cameras and capture photos of their children, friends or loved ones posing with the world famous St. Nick. As the event is being held as a fundraiser for The Times' “Merry Christmas Fund,” participants are asked to consider a donation. All proceeds benefit the Salvation Army of Pawtucket.
With his real white beard, twinkling eyes and jolly demeanor, White is a most believable Santa. He has earned a successful living for over 20 years with TV commercials, print and catalog advertisements, and live appearances at parades, malls, Christmas tree lightings and other holiday events. He has appeared as Santa at the White House, at the Vatican for the late Pope John Paul II and for various members of royalty.
As Santa to the Stars, White has been featured in a photographic book depicting the holiday classic, “The Night Before Christmas” and even has his own rap music video, called “A Christmas Wrap.” A Pawtucket native who lives in Italy for much of the year, he travels the globe as a professional Santa model. While obviously most in demand at this time of year, he always manages to find the time to make a local appearance to help out the Times' “Merry Christmas Fund.”
In a recent interview, White spoke about his hectic work schedule, which began last week in New York City with the unveiling of the Lord and Taylor store's lavishly decorated windows on Fifth Avenue. “This is something they have been doing for 87 years,” he noted. Also in the works is a Dec. 20 flight to Dubai to appear at a holiday party for a prince, and on Dec. 22, he's off to Rome, Italy to greet youngsters at one of that city's largest toy stores. “Then, it's back to LA where I do my Hollywood thing,” he stated.
That “Hollywood thing” includes an annual appearance at a mall in Beverly Hills where he has posed with many A-list celebrities since they were youngsters. It also means his yearly invitation to a family Christmas party at the home of Bruce Jenner and Kris Kardashian Jenner, where he is hoping to spread a little extra cheer to beleaguered daughter Kim Kardashian in the wake of her much-publicized divorce from NBA player Kris Humphreys.
White, who has known all of the Kardashian/Jenner children since they were young, weighed in on all of the controversy surrounding Kim's 72-day marriage and sudden split. “I think Kim is a girl looking for love. She wants to be in love. I don't believe her wedding was a sham,” he stated. He then added, “She is still on Santa's good list.”
For a man who has made a living promoting and celebrating the Christmas season, the movement in recent years to replace the word “Christmas” with “holiday” to be more all-inclusive and politically correct does not sit well. He said he was glad to see that Lord and Taylor had chosen the theme “What is Christmas About?” for its 2011 window displays and noted that this idea had been supported by the management team and store president, who happens to be Jewish.
“We had a discussion about this, and I told him that I liked the fact that they had kept the word Christmas,” White said. He added, however, that in the widely diverse New York City, he has felt a slight change in attitude for the past five or six years as he has delivered his hearty “Ho, Ho, Ho...Merry Christmas!” greetings to passers-by. “There are some people who I say 'Merry Christmas' to and they don't even look at me. Just walk right by,” he lamented.
White also noted that about six years ago, the organizers of the Dallas, Texas annual Christmas Parade changed the name of the event to the Dallas Holiday Parade and he was asked to replace his greeting of “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays.” “So, I start off with 'Happy Holidays' and then I add 'Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza, Feliz Navidad...I throw all of the greetings in,” he said.
“The bottom line is that if no Christ Child was born, there would be no Christmas. There would be no stores making oodles of dough this season, no Christmas cards being printed or trees being sold. That is the real reason for the season,” White stated.