SAN JOSE, Calif. - A beloved holiday tradition in the South Bay is not immune to the labor shortage. Christmas in the Park is in desperate need of more Santas. Many of the regulars have expressed concerns about COVID.
In a little more than a month, Christmas in the Park will again return to an in-person event at Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park in San Jose. Organizers worry there might not always be a Santa around to greet children.
After a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Christmas in the Park will return to its original form of a free walk-thru event in the plaza. Last year’s drive-thru event at Lake Cunningham Park will remain.
It’s two ways for families to celebrate the holiday, which means the need for more Santas. Organizers said this year Santas are hard to come by.
"This year because we are still in COVID, visits with Santa Claus is something we are struggling with and one of the things we are struggling with is actually getting Santa at Christmas in the Park," said the group's Executive Director Jason Minsky.
The nonprofit’s executive director said this year Santas who typically volunteer their time are choosing not to return.
"Their fear is they are going to be around unvaccinated children," said Minsky. "By that time, even though it's a couple months away, we are going to be in a stage the kids will not all be vaccinated."
KTVU spoke to one Santa who received his booster shot and said despite that added protection, he’ll feel safe behind a plexiglass shield.
Fears of the coronavirus and these unprecedented times are leading to labor shortages everywhere.
Over at Westfield Valley Fair in San Jose, there’s a hiring sign on almost every storefront as the holiday shopping season ramps up. New restaurant iChina is looking to hire 50 staff members.
"We are anticipating a crowd absolutely I think people have been waiting to dine out," said iChina Marketing Director Jean Francisco. "It can be a little difficult especially because of Covid obviously and people going back to school," said Francisco.
Making people feel safe is everyone’s priority. Back at Christmas in the Park, the visiting Santa experience will only take place outdoors as opposed to an enclosed space like years past.
"We don’t want to let people down, we want people to come and have an enjoyable experience," said Minsky.
Orientation for the Santa program is this Saturday. The nonprofit needs at least 15 more Santas. If you are interested, you can contact Christmas in the Park Executive Director Jason Minsky at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com