Debbie McGaw watches as her son, Noah, 2, reluctantly visits with Santa at North Point Mall in Alpharetta. Consumers are increasingly buying Christmas gifts online, but Santa visits help draw parents of young kids to malls across the nation. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: Bob Andres/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: Bob Andres/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Atlanta Santa applicants get edgy questions, potentially high pay

Questions in most job applications tend to carefully avoid violating employment laws and social mores. 

But when it comes to selecting mall Santas, the rules apparently are different.


That's one question in an online information form for people interested in contract Santa gigs with the Iconic Group, an Atlanta-based company that handles Santa/photo operations in malls around the nation. 

Picking Santas is like casting actors to fit a part, according to the company. Many malls, for example, require that their Santas have real beards.

Among the other questions on Iconic’s form: 

"Do you have your own Santa Suit? Yes/No"


"Would a Mrs. Claus be accompanying your role as Santa? If so, please describe."

Mall Santas tend to work long hours and are expected to delight lots of tired kids. In return, pay can be jolly. Mall Santas can make $10,000 to $60,000 over a five- or six-week season, according to Denise Conroy, Iconic's CEO.

Get a behind-the-scenes view of the Santa business -- and tips from an insider -- in the latest Unofficial Business column on

AJC columnist Matt Kemper talks all things Christmas from getting peed on to helping kids smile for the camera. (Video by Bob Andres, edited by Erica A. Hernandez)

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