Dale and Trish Parris
AGES: 67 and 58, respectively
HOME TURF: Murrells Inlet
CLAIM TO FAME: Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus
PREVIOUS EMPLOYER: United States Marine Corps. Dale is a Vietnam veteran and former Parris Island drill instructor; Trish, a former recruiter
TRICKS OF THE TRADE: Dale never says he is or isn’t Santa. A kid will ask, “Are you Santa?” Response: “What do you think?” And the kid might say, “I think you are!” Answer? “Ho, ho, ho!”
There may not be a more identifiable character in the world—the red hat and suit, the portly belly, the long, white beard, the bellowing laugh. And for those who don the cheap suits and the fake, elastic-banded facial hair every Christmas? Well, they can take off everything afterwards and go about their merry lives.
Not so for Dale Parris, who for the past decade hasn’t shaved and who, with his wife, Trish, runs a “mom and pop” Santa business in which they act the parts of Mr. and Mrs. Claus at private parties, international airports, photo sessions, schools, senior centers, churches, even a Bass Pro Shop.
“For the guys who have the real beards,” Dale Parris says—and his beard is tremendously authentic, with perfectly curled mustache tips—“it’s basically a 365-days-a-year job.”
Everywhere they go in public, he’s recognized instantly, a kind of celebrity that might tire out most folks.
“Being Santa is not just putting on a red suit and sitting in a chair. You gotta smile all the time,” he says. “You have to want to do it. You’re not going to get rich. The money you make, you’ll just roll it back into buying outfits … hair and makeup and all that.”
Trish Parris chimes in: “He’s got more beauty products than I do.”
After her husband lets out a deep laugh—an utterly North Pole laugh—she adds: “It’s just what we love to do. Some people might think it’s dorky to do it year-round or not to confine it to a season. But the way we look at it, there’s no better opportunity to …”
“To put a smile on a child’s face,” Dale Parris says.
Learn more about living the life of Santa at coastalsanta.com.