Dec 26, 2008
This American Life spends several days in a mall in suburban Tennessee, to document life in the mall during the run-up to Christmas. Also, a rift in a national association of professional Santas—the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas (yes, there is such a group).
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Note: this is the 2010 version of an episode that originally aired in 2008. A few stories have been re-arranged and some content updated.
- A tale of two Santas. There's Tim Conaghan, a full-time professional Santa with a big belly and a real flowing white beard. And there's Santa Nick—he too has a belly and real white beard. But the story of Santa Tim and Santa Nick is not like most uplifting Christmas parables. Instead, it's about two men, very much alike, who came to lead rival factions in a bitter Santa civil war, and came themselves to be arch enemies. Josh Bearman reports on the political schism that's overtaken the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas. (27 minutes)
In-depth interview with . . . the Galleria.