(From the Life magazine photo collection; by Ralph Morse.)
The Rundown newsletter offers up its list of some of the area's best Santas. "The best are worth the journey," the said. Here goes:
Swankiest Santa: Rodeo Drive
Take a trolley ride to Beverly Hills’ most successful Santa. On the way to his HQ at the Paley Center, you'll chat with Mrs. Claus, who shares stories and songs. They'll even pour you some cider while you're waiting for seat time with the big guy.
Sat-Sun until Christmas at 11a, 12p and 1p. Pick-up at corner of Rodeo Dr. and Dayton Way. (310-285-2442/2550). $5 adults; $1 children under 12.
Sexiest Santa and Dancers: The Beverly Center
A Beverly Center tradition since 2000. This year’s Santa (actor Eli Wilhide) was chosen from a pool of more than 350 hopefuls. He and his female Candy Cane Dancers (some on stilts) perform live each night.
Fri, Sat and Sun evenings and Dec 22nd-24th. 8500 Beverly Blvd. (310-854-0071). Picture packages $17-49.
Multicultural Santa: Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza
Celebrate diversity with a non-white Santa who also accepts wishlists in Spanish.
Through Dec 24 during normal mall hours in front of the Sears Court. 3650 W. Martin Luther King Blvd. (323-290-6636). Picture packages run $13-$40.
Most Realistic Santa: Santa’s Reindeer Roundup at Disneyland
Experience more than just the man here. See Santa’s entire lifestyle — complete with live reindeer — as part of Disneyland's panoply of holiday festivities.
Nov 21 - Jan 4 in Frontierland during normal park hours. 700 W. Ball Rd., Anaheim (714-781-4565). Tickets $59 and up.
Your Own Santa: AlwaysJustForFun.com
Hire your own jolly fat man to appear at home or an event. Real beards cost more, so tug at will, you paid for it.
Available anytime in Orange County, San Bernardino, Inland Empire, and Los Angeles County. (909-598-3119). Real beards $175-$350 for the first hour; fake beards $149-$179. Christmas Eve/Day appearances are higher. Mileage fees sometimes apply.