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Ashland Santa Starts 'Santa School'

Online school offers advice on beard-whitening, marketing, and getting the best photo.

Posted: Dec. 27, 2018 11:51 AM

ASHLAND, Ore. -- As Santa rests up from Christmas Eve, his local helpers are already preparing for next year.

Jerry Tinsley has been dressing up as Santa for almost 20 years.

"One of my granddaughters was scared of Santa, so I put the suit on with the fake beard the first year 19 years ago and I fell in love with it," Tinsley said.

He set up shop Tuesday afternoon outside El Gallo in Medford. Kids and adults alike stopped by to share their Christmas wishes.

"The hard part about being Santa is looking the part and being the part -- having the ho ho ho -- that jolly laugh," Tinsley said.

Being Santa is more than it appears.

That's why another local Santa started a website offering Santa classes. Ed Taylor, the founder of The Santa Conservatory, is based out of Ashland.

The classes include several topics, including how to get the best photos, how to whiten a beard, and how clients can market themselves as "Santa."

Taylor says he spends part of the year in Los Angeles, and has acted as Santa in several movies.

"My background was in training and in Internet marketing that kind of thing," Taylor said via FaceTime. "And so I thought, 'Well you know I'm just going to put together a little training program for Santas that are not an all these big communities.'"

Tinsley says he's only just started watching the online videos, and looks forward to learning more.

"I thought I had already been an accomplished Santa at 17 years and there's so much to learn," Tinsley said.

International groups, like the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas offer its members background checks so clients know they're getting a qualified Santa.

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