SAN FRANCISCO (WANE) — Old Navy wants to re-imagine the classic image of Santa Claus.
The clothing retailer has launched a Santa BOOTcamp, branded as a “Santa school for all” designed to train those of various backgrounds, ethnicities and cultural heritages who just want to spread a little holiday joy.
Old Navy said in a news release that less than 5% of all professional Santas in the U.S. identify as people of color, but nearly half of children under 15 in the U.S. identity as non-white.
To make jolly ol’ St. Nick more relatable to everyone who sits on his lap, Old Navy’s BOOTcamp “inclusive training program” is open to “any person who wants to play the role of Santa this year – be it professionally, in their community, or for their family.”
The BOOTcamp is a 30-minute virtual course that teaches the “fundamentals of becoming Santa,” Old Navy said. Among the lessons: how to respond to kids’ frequently asked Santa questions, key phrases in both sign language and Spanish, and tactics for how to take the perfect photo.
Old Navy said it partnered with veteran Santa Timothy Connaghan, founder of School4Santas and owner of one of the largest Santa booking agencies in the U.S., to develop the course.
“It’s not the red suit or white hair and beard that create holiday magic, it’s what you have in your heart,” said Timothy Connaghan. “A good Santa should spread joy and exude the holiday spirit, regardless of their appearance.”
The free Santa BOOTcamp is available through Friday.