After the Yankee Candle, the flagship store in Williamsburg, closed in 2021, Jim Hines thought he might be unemployed — at least Santa’s job.
70-year-old Hines is a resident of Newport News and has been playing the role of Santa Claus in the Yankee Candle Shop for the past five years, but his seasonal career as a happy white-bearded guy can be traced back to nearly 38 years ago.
In the past three decades, Hines has played a role in many companies, including four years of working in the Christmas town of Williamsburg in Bush Gardens, doing home visits for the elderly, and helping active military personnel to provide them after deployment. A surprise for my loved ones.
This year, he will return to work at a new location in China Merchants Plaza.
Hines will be Santa Claus at the Memorie Group real estate office on Prince George Street this season, welcoming children, pets and others for a group photo.
"I just like to bring joy to the family and children, looking at the smiles on their faces," Hines said. "I can be in the restaurant, they will come, and I am very suitable for the role."
With a naturally white beard, Hines has been mistaken for many times as the main force of the season. But this is not always the case.
"When I first started to grow a beard, I had to bleach it because my hair was black at the time," he said. "Now when I wash my hair, I just spray it like white vinegar and comb it when it's wet. This will remove any yellowness."
In addition to growing a beard and keeping a beard, according to Hines, the role of Santa Claus does not require much preparation, just a good attitude and love for the season.
"This is my favorite time of the year," he said.
One of Hynes's first roles as Santa Claus was working for Moose Loyal Order, a fraternity service organization, where he conducted home visits for young and elderly people.
In the years since, Hines has seen him play Santa's fair share, from crying or screaming children to pet roosters for their fame. For a family, he has witnessed the growth of three generations of children.
"Especially local families, I see them every year. Many tourists will come, and they will come every year," Hines said. "I have met people from Japan, China, and South Korea."
However, in 2020, he experienced a special Christmas. In many places where he worked last year, COVID-19 preventive measures were taken, such as plexiglass protective cover, social distancing and mask requirements.
Hines said that for young children, making connections has become more difficult, but he has maintained the tradition of asking children what they want for Christmas, and how their school year is going based on their age.
Despite some challenges, Hines said that he has left countless memories as Santa Claus over the years. One of his favorites is a 9-day-old baby in a Santa suit. His nickname is the same as him, "Jimmy".
"When I first saw Santa Claus, I also had a Santa Claus suit," he said.
Hines will continue his role as Santa Claus at Merchant Square this year, open daily from noon to 8 pm to December 24. Arranged by the center of Williamsburg, a non-profit economic development organization, all proceeds from the photo conference will be donated to participating non-profit organizations, including the Heritage Humane Society, House of Mercy, etc.
Ben Munsen, owner of Memorie Group Real Estate and member of the downtown Williamsburg board of directors, said that Hines was the first role he thought of when organizing the event. Hines is the Santa Claus of his children, so Monson witnessed the impression he made on the children.
Classes on weekdays will be dedicated to children taking photos with Santa Claus, and on Saturdays and Sundays, families can also bring their pets.
Each photo costs $50 per family and includes high-resolution digital copies of all the images taken for guests to print at the vendor of their choice. Time slots can be booked online at williamsburgdowntown.com.
Abigail Adcox, firstname.lastname@example.org, 757-264-8149