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When Santa visited Old Navy...

ExperienceWilliam Arnold, Old Navy sales associate1 Comment

Editors’ note:Old Navy stores across the U.S. and Canada received a special visit from Santa on Dec. 15 when Store Associates suited up and gave their best “ho, ho, ho” impressions. Families were invited to join in on the holiday cheer by snapping a photo with Mr. Claus and posting it on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #OldNavySanta. The photos were collected online at www.oldnavysanta.com, where shoppers could order a personalized postcard with their photo.

(Kids, ask your parents before reading further!)

One Santa, William Arnold of Tupelo, Miss., shares his North Pole story.

In September of 2013, my manager Sherri came to me and subtly asked if I would be interested in being Santa Claus this year for the Tupelo, Miss. Old Navy store.

My answer was undoubtedly yes!

I come from a family of Santas that include my grandfather and uncle. I was so excited to honor my family by playing the part, and even more honored to have Old Navy bestow this honor on me.

I was in the U.S. Air Force from 2003-2007 and I served in Operation Enduring Freedom, so I know how important a uniform can be to someone. But, more importantly, I know how disciplined the person inside it must be to complete the job.

In Santa’s' case, one of his attributes is to be jolly and cheerful, just like how I present myself every day working for Old Navy. I work here because I want to have fun at work and smile all day long; I was so thankful to be hired as a sales associate.

After I accepted the offer to play Santa, I became a little overwhelmed by his duties and thought that I wouldn't make the grade, and maybe I didn't have what it takes to play this role. As time wore on, my fear eased, because I knew that all you had to do to play Santa was say “Ho, Ho, Ho” every once in a while and make sure everyone was having a good time.

On the morning of Dec. 15, I put on the suit and my little elves, Mrs. Claus and I burst onto the sales floor.

Just as I expected, the children were delighted to see me. They were overjoyed at my presence, though some were a little afraid.

One little girl stuck out in my head — she was the cutest three-year-old I’d ever seen and she shouted “Santa!” and waved and smiled from ear to ear.

A few of the younger children were scared and screamed and ran away. The rest of my fans were adults who wanted to capture that timeless moment with good ole Kris Kringle.

When my shift was complete, I was awestruck by how many people I had the chance to influence that day. And I loved playing Jolly Old Saint Nick!

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