You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Dec 25, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Santas enjoy helping Ann Arbor area children believe in Christmastime magic

By Kellie Woodhouse

If you saw Joe Eadie —a genial, grey-bearded 61-year-old— walking down the street, you might think to yourself: 'That guy looks like Santa.'

If you saw him in his Santa costume —replete with a pocket watch from North Pole, Alaska, a leather belt and boots— you'd probably do a double take.

But once you saw him interacting with children, you'd be convinced.


Joe Eadie, also known as Santa during the holidays, stands in Kerrytown after all families have left after a Christmas tree lighting earlier this year.

Daniel Brenner I

"I do things that probably most Santas would not do. If the children were a little bit afraid, I would get down on the floor with the toys and get them to come to me," says Eadie, or Santa Claus, as he is more commonly known throughout Kerrytown during the holidays. Eadie plays Santa for Kerrytown Shops on Saturdays during the holiday season. He's also been Santa in plays and for local community organizations.

"I enjoy the children, of course. I really honestly enjoy the feedback from parents, hearing that I've done a good job making their child feel comfortable.

"Quite often these last few years, I've heard the comment: 'Well, you're the first Santa they would ever go to," he said. "I enjoy the challenge of a child that is a little bit afraid of me initially. I enjoy trying to win their trust."

Santa Eadie, of Ann Arbor, is a sales representative for a local manufacturer. He began playing Santa several years ago after the request of a family member. Now, he plays Santa regularly, charging $100 an hour, and plans to attend the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Mich.

Danny Maier, 49, also of Ann Arbor, is another local Santa Claus, playing Santa for organizations like the YMCA, the Notre Dame club of Ann Arbor and during Conor O'Neills Traditional Irish Pub and Restaurant's annual Santa event. For Santa Maier, playing Santa is a hobby.

"It's intoxicating, it is absolutely enthralling and to see how fervently they believe in you is amazing. You can see it in their eyes," he said.

Aileen Kennison brought her two children, Maggie and Sean, to Conor's. The children asked for Legos and Barbie dolls.


Joe Eadie, also known as Santa during the holidays, speaks with a child during the Kerrytown tree lighting in November.

"It's the first time my kids have seen Santa and they're a little nervous," she said. "My son asked how Santa was able to come to Conor's when Christmas is two days away. I told him Santa needed a break."

For Santa Maier, breaking through a child's nervousness is part of the fun.

When five-year-old Noah Bailey told Santa he wanted walkie talkies for Christmas, Maier's enthusiasm was clear: Santa, too, loves walkie talkies.

"He really likes what I want," Bailey said afterward.

For Santas like Maier and Eadie, career satisfaction comes from getting children to believe in one of Christmas' most famous and magical characters.

"Even though your beard might not be perfect, or you shoes not exactly right, they don't notice any of that. They're just in the zone," said Santa Maier. "The innocence of the child just believes the moment."

Added Eadie:

"For me it's not just playing Santa, it’s becoming Santa. For that period of time that the suit is on, it’s nice to see smiles."

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for As the North Pole correspondent, she occasionally reports on Santa sightings. Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.


Steven Murphy

Tue, Dec 25, 2012 : 6 p.m.

"charging $100 an hour" That's a joke, right?

Dog Guy

Tue, Dec 25, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

At Briarwood decades ago, a three-year-old explained how to tell the real Santa Claus: "The real Santa Claus says, 'Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas.'" That works for me.


Tue, Dec 25, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

b-b-but Eadie isn't the REAL Santa?! Thanks a lot for popping my balloon on Christmas Day, ann arbor dot com!