North GA man named as one of 11 best Santas in US - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

North GA man named as one of 11 best Santas in US

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Our NBC partners at WXIA are reporting that a 53-year-old Roswell man has been named to be among the best 11 Santas in the nation in a recent survey.

Thomas Tolbert was raised in Roswell, but this year is working his second season as a mall Santa Claus at Bridgewater Commons in northern New Jersey.

According to Time, Tolbert says he has seen a number a familiar faces this season, including a teenager who said last year that she wanted her divorced parents to stop fighting for Christmas. Tolbert said he had a "stern talk with her father." Over the summer months, Tolbert said he had received a letter through the mall saying the family had been getting along much better.

Tolbert looks so much like the "jolly old elf" that even during the off months, people come up to him, thinking he's Santa. When he went to Disney World in 2012, he was asked to change his attire - which they said that though not dressed as Santa - still made kids think he was Santa Claus.

In 2012, Tolbert told 11Alive that he was happy to be identified as Santa, not just during the Christmas season, but all year long.

"I committed when I grew the first whisker that I would give up some privacy, but I would be Santa, 24-7, 365 days a year," Tolbert said.

When at Disney, Tolbert was asked to "change his attire because it was disruptive to our operations and confusing to our guests, particularly children who asked to take photos with him."

Tolbert says that changing the outfit doesn't change the man inside.

"I said the shirt isn't what makes it," he said. "It's the face, it's the feature and it's in the heart that makes a Santa."

Here's Time's full list of the best 11 Santas in the United States:

  • Santa and Mrs. Claus (Jim & Ann Steinmetz of "Claus for a Cause), St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, CA
  • Santa Claus (Ernest Berger), Santa-America, Daphne, AL
  • Santa Steve (Steve Humphries), Santa-America's Military Support Programs, Fort Polk, LA
  • Santa Claus (Scott Calkin), Mashapee Commons, Mashapee, MA
  • Blue Santa (Guy Benson), Operation Blue Santa, Austin, TX
  • Mr. Kringle & Company, Kringle's Inventionasium, Cleveland, OH
  • Santa Claus (Thomas Tolbert), Bridgewater Commons, Bridgewater, NJ
  • Santa (Phillip L. Wenz), Santa's Village Azoosment Park, East Dundee, IL
  • Santa Claus (Jonathan Meath), Gaylord National Resort, National Harbor, MD
  • Santa Brett (Brett Maddox), Colorado Springs, CO
  • Santa Kris Kringle (Chris Groeschke), Downtown Container Park, Las Vegas, NV
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