Let me start off by saying I had no idea what had got myself into. If I’d known I would be at the centre of a parade in front of thousands of people or what would ensue later that night with Santa I probably wouldn’t have agreed. I had recently started work as a tour guide and was asked by my boss if I would be willing to dress up as an elf for a work related event. “Sure” I said, not bothered to ask any further questions. A few weeks later I was called to attend training in Tempe which was the first red flag. However, It was not until I arrived and saw an enormous motorised Santa’s sleigh and six elaborate bicycles converted into reindeer did I realise that I had underestimated what I had signed up for.
On the dreaded day I arrived at six O’clock at the Pullman Hotel reception in Circular Quay. Standing beside me was a large bearded man who seemed equally confused. After exchanging awkward glances at one another he approached me and said, “you must be an elf.” Judging by his age and beard I nodded in agreement and replied, “hey Santa.” We eventually found the dressing room full of Santa’s elves, pulling up their green tights and stripy socks. The council provided particular black shoes for us to wear but didn’t request our sizes, so we attempted to stuff our feet into sizes too big or small.
Event staff informed us our objective was to move through the crowds swiftly, protecting Santa from the swarms of the masses in Circular Quay until we got to the sleigh. The lord Mayor would join us there for a photo and then we would move across Circular Quay through to Alfred Street. Unfortunately Santa tuned out during this instruction and as soon as we exited the hotel lobby he immediately began ringing his bell, alerting everyone within a 200 metre radius that he had arrived. A crowd formed around the sleigh as we waited for the Lord Mayor, taking in the crowd I began to realise that I was involuntarily playing a key role in what I have now coined 'Christmas Fever.' Having locked eyes with some overzealous grown men I became increasingly aware of the fact I was dressed in tight Lycra aboard a reindeer.
Almost all of the elves, including Santa were actors or children’s entertainers so were naturally extroverted. Having a more introverted personality I simply couldn’t match their energy, instead I just smiled and waved like I was the Queen and laughed at a terrible thought I had to ride through the parade pointing at different children repeating, “coal! coal! coal!”. Riding reindeer bikes is not as easy as it looks, they're not as stable as regular bikes and can capsize at any moment. Which it nearly did on the many pot holes along the well-trodden rode to Martin Place. As we followed the marching band through the centre of the parade I couldn’t help but feel jealous of their Guy Fawkes masks as I looked out into a sea of faces holding their phones in the air. If I stacked it on the reindeer I could become a meme in seconds, I was also told not to turn too quickly or I would cut off my reindeer's head which undoubtedly would traumatise any child below the age of Seven.
After the lighting of the Christmas tree we were brought into the centre of the parade in Martin Place to take photos with kids. The first half hour was fine but soon after I started to look around in desperation, we hadn't seen event staff since we arrived and there was no end in sight. Not to mention we were completely surrounded by an endless sea of parents with their finger on the camera trigger. Tensions were high as rumour had it amongst the elves that Santa was being provided dinner as we worked the crowd. Our cheeks tight from two and a half hours of smiling and our throats hoarse from yelling “Merry Christmas!” or “Elfie!” we were bitter to say the least.
When the parade was over, we changed at Town Hall and then headed to a dingy pub. I was the first to get a beer and headed to the table to join Santa while we waited for the others. He talked about what he called his “rock-star moment,” where he shouts out to the crowd “have you been good boys and girls?” to which they scream back with anticipated excitement, “YES!” I laughed, then when silence fell he poured himself a beer and said casually, “I was admiring your body earlier.” I remembered he was looking at me funny as we were changing but dismissed it, thinking surely not it‘s Santa. Following my stone faced reaction he clumsily continued with, “I coach a women’s AFL team and I think you would be great.” Riding high off the cheers of the (albeit young) crowd he probably felt like Mick Jagger after a stones concert. One of many differences being Mick Jagger is an actual Rock-star and not a man of folklore created for children. Out of all the things I’ve wanted for Christmas being hit on by Santa has not been one of them. I guess it makes sense that Santa would be prone to Christmas Fever, considering he only comes once a year.