Becoming Santa:

Local Man Says the role of Santa Changed his life

The magic of the Holiday season wouldn’t be complete without Santa Claus, and Payson resident Dodd Greer takes that statement very seriously – all year long.

It was about ten years ago when Greer was asked to play the role of Santa at a local church function, and he said that all it took was one night, and he was hooked. There was only one thing that he needed to improve: his appearance. 

Greer described the suit he wore that day as “cheap, a little drab, very itchy and unrealistic.” He said that despite his attire, he loved playing the role of Santa, and that he knew that if he was going to do this again, he needed to up his game. 

“We live in a very family oriented area with lots of families with young kids, and being accepted as Santa Claus can be very hard,” he said. “All the 11-year-old boys say you’re not really Santa Claus, and the 8-year-olds ask, ‘Are you the real Santa Claus?’ And then of course, the little kids don’t even ask; they know I’m Santa. That first year, I had such a great time, so at the end of the season, I started to grow my own beard and bought a nice Santa outfit.”

The outfit Greer invested in has a name in the world of Santa’s, and it’s called the “Coca Cola’’ outfit because it looks like the one in the iconic Coca Cola ads. He has since invested in other getups like the one Kurt Russell wears in “The Christmas Chronicles.”

“Everyone was talking about how cool Kurt Russell’s costume is. It really is cool, and I had to buy it,” he said. “It has this long leather coat with fox fur all around it and high boots and a long cap. The kids love when I wear that one.”

A yearlong and multicultural Santa

For Greer, putting on the costume became a way of life that he wanted to maintain throughout the year. 

“Over the years, my ‘neighborhood’ has really expanded, and so many now know me as Santa Dodd,” he said. “Kids see me at church, in the neighborhood or the store and they say, ‘It’s Santa Dodd!’ Now it’s just as natural as anything they could call me, and that’s really wonderful for me. I love that they can get into the spirit just by seeing me even in the spring and summertime.”

Greer said that he finds ways to carry the Holiday spirit all year long, including wearing Hawaiian shirts with a Santa logo on them, and playing the role in the Payson Scottish Festival that takes place in July.

“I’m very Scottish and Greer is an English version of Gregor,” he said. “I’ve been the local Utah representative for Clan Gregor a few times, among other things related to the festival. Recently, the director asked me how I felt about doing a Scottish Santa at the festival, and luckily our clan colors are red, white and green, and those are the colors of my kilt. This year was as fun a time as I’ve ever had being Santa because I had kids say, ‘I didn’t know Scottish people believed in Santa.’ I tell them that he was born in Scotland, and that it’s where the Tartan Christmas wrapping paper came from. The kids really liked that.”

Greer also speaks Spanish, and said that many Spanish speaking children are often surprised and pleased when he speaks their language. 

“I went on an LDS mission to Argentina, and throughout Latin America, Papa Noel is what they call me,” he said. “I’ve done Spanish speaking events with Papa Noel. When the kids come up to talk to me, I greet them in Spanish and we break into a conversation. They say, ‘I didn’t know Papa Noel spoke Spanish.’ I say, ‘Of course, Santa Claus has to speak every language.’”

The best part about being ‘Santa Dodd’

While Greer said he loves growing a beard, dressing up in cool costumes (including a kilt), his favorite part is the tender interactions he has with the children he gets to meet. 

“Some of the sweetest experiences I’ve had are when I ask the children what they want for Christmas,” he said. “More times than I could tell you, kids have said, ‘Well, this is kind of weird, Santa, but don’t bring me anything. My little brother, he really wants a bike. Can you get him a bike?’ Or they’ll say, ‘Well, you know, I’m just hoping to do something good for my mom because she’s been kind of sick.’ Those things humble me and pull on my heartstrings.”

While Greer believes in the magic of the season, he knows that his position as Santa Dodd is unique, and he doesn’t want to make promises he can’t keep.

“I don’t promise them anything specific; the only thing I promise them is that they will get something really special,” he said. “When I make that promise, I pass out a promise card that says that they will get something special as long as they promise to do something kind for someone else. I know and they take me very seriously. I have passed out a lot of promise cards, and that’s come back to me in countless ways.”

Greer said that playing the role of Santa Dodd has been one of the most rewarding experiences of his life, and that he has no plans of quitting anytime soon.

“I love doing this more than I love anything else other than being a grandpa and a great grandpa and a neighbor,” he said. “I’m 75 and I’ll do it as long as I’m physically able. Emotionally I’m, I’m sold; I really am. This is my other identity that I get reminded of every single day, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to do this. 

Greer, aka, Santa Dodd is available for family and community events, and can be found on Facebook at facebook.com/SantaDoddUtah/.

Santa Dodd serves Utah and Salt Lake Counties.

Arianne Brown
Arianne Brown
Arianne Brown is a mom of nine who writes columns for many local and national publications. She currently resides in Payson, and enjoys looking for good happenings in her area and sharing them for others to read about. For more of her stories, search "A Mother's Write" on Facebook.

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