Famous Okanagan Santa inducted into International Santa Claus Hall of Fame | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Famous Okanagan Santa inducted into International Santa Claus Hall of Fame

Kelowna Santa Claus Tom Kliner was inducted into the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ International Santa Claus Hall of Fame

A Kelowna Santa Claus has been inducted into the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame in recognition of his great work bringing the Christmas spirit to his community for over two decades.

The jolly old elf, Tom Kliner, has appeared in a multitude of venues over the years, starting out as a mall Santa then going off his own often alongside Mrs. Claus to spread the Christmas spirit, according to a media release by the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame project.

“I was totally flabbergasted,” he said. “I knew the project and nominations were going on but I had no expectations of this.” 

Kliner is the founder of two social media platforms, Santas Across the Globe and the Fraternity of International Real Bearded Santas.

READ MORE: Making a career out of playing Santa Claus

He has brought many Santas, Mrs. Claus, Elves and others in the Christmas Industry together and helped mentor newcomers.

“I started as a Santa because I needed a job and then I fell in love with it, and I went on my own and we found more fun things to do,” Kliner said. “When you are dealing with these little kids, everything is brand new and you see Christmas through their eyes. There is excitement and anticipation.”

The International Santa Clause Hall of Fame celebrates, studies and preserves the historical documentation of the many men and women who have greatly contributed to the Legend of Santa Clause, according to the release.

Santas are nominated by communities around the world where thousands of professional Santas, Mrs. Clauses and helpers are members.

READ MORE: Kelowna's own St. Nick knows a little about persistence and the holiday spirit

Over his career as Santa Claus, Kliner has taken part in countless community Christmas events including city tree lighting events, corporate parties and events, private homes and schools.

He has visited hospitals and seniors, supported child advocacy and lent a face to many fundraisers and charities.

“This is the most fun anyone can have,” Kliner said. “There is laughter and there are some tears, and there are a lot of heartwarming stories.”

Kliner said he has no plans to retire as a Santa and will keep going as long as he can.

“This Santa has evolved from just personal appearances to virtual Santa and several movies and television shows,” reads the release.

“Some of the most challenging but also rewarding experiences have been with persons of special needs, and the hardest of all the last Christmas. The knowledge of knowing you’re helping someone celebrate their last wishes is something you will never forget.”

— This story was updated at 3:59 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, with comment from Tom Kliner.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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