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Santas Gather for Annual Denmark Meeting

July 24, 2003

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) _ About 120 Santa Clauses from around the world, clad in different shades of red, gathered Wednesday for their 40th annual convention _ mainly to have a good time and bellow cheerful ho-hos.

Santa Claus, St. Nick, Sinter Klaas, Papa Noel, Babbo Natale, Julenissen and others from Europe, the Americas and Asia met in an amusement park north of Copenhagen for the World Santa Claus Congress.

The agenda for the three-day facetious convention included a parade of firetrucks through the Danish capital Tuesday and a vote on when Christmas should be held this year.

Unanimously, the jolly old elves _ including Paradise Yamamoto and Yutaka Iwabuchi, dressed as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, both from Tokyo; and Jose Antonio Garcia Quintero from Caracas, Venezuela _ voted in favor of holding Christmas Eve on Dec. 24.

``We also call for international rules to create flight corridors so we can deliver the presents without being hassled by witches on broom sticks and boys like Harry Potter,″ Ole Lundsgaard, a Danish Santa, or Julemand, told the cheering and laughing crowd.

Created 40 years ago by the Bakken amusement park, 13 miles north of Copenhagen, the convention has grown over the years from being a local summer activity to an event attracting Santas from abroad.

On Wednesday, the Italian Babbo Natale, Armando Narciso, became an ``official Santa″ after the assembly approved his outfit and he promised in return not to drink wine, beer or alcohol before addressing children and not to smoke while wearing the costume.

``You cannot be a good Santa if you smell alcohol,″ said Garcia Quintero, who hasn’t yet obtained the authorization but is in his two-year test period before he can get a badge on his red robe. ``You must not set a bad example for the children.″

Canadian Santa, Carman Lamb of Sarnia, Ontario, agreed.

``Kids love us and we must be nice to them,″ Lamb told The Associated Press. ``I get a real rush from seeing all those small smiling faces,″ said the 73-year-old retired lawyer, who visits children in hospitals and schools in December.

After Wednesday’s meeting that included a traditional Danish Christmas dinner, the Santas paraded through the amusement park, sweating profusely as their heavy costumes clashed with the warm temperatures.

``That’s a lot of Santas,″ said 7-year-old Emil Jeppesen as he looked with some amazement. Then turning to his mother, he asked with a smile, ``Does this mean I’ll get a really good present this year?″

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On the Net:

http://www.santa.gl

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