Plus, he really connects with the children, Cary added.
“I see them enraptured by him,” he said. “One kid was tugging at his mom and stopped in his tracks and watched as Santa was singing.”
His performing is a draw for the whole family, said Janet Lafevre, senior marketing director for the Galleria.
“Everyone, from children to senior citizens, will come to talk to him,” she said.
He has done a lot of musical theater — light and grand opera.
He’s been the Pirate King in “Pirates of Penzance” and the Mikado in the production of the same name, as well as the Ghost of Christmas Present in “A Christmas Carol.”
He studied voice for two years in the 1980s with Giorgio Tozzi, a leading bass singer of his day, Greer Thompson said.
Greer Thompson has met a lot of children over the years and has some fond memories.
One story that quickly came to mind was the boy who brought him 25 pacifiers.
“His mom was trying to get him to quit the binky,” Greer Thompson said.
“He wanted me to give them to needy children because he no longer needed them. I figured there must have been between $70 and $80 worth of pacifiers.”
Santa’s most difficult customers are those between the ages of 1 1/2 and 3, he said.
“That’s the afraid-of-Santa stage,” he said with a chuckle.
The most expensive gift a child has asked for are all three of the top game systems of the day — Play Station 3, Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS, he said.
The funniest thing to ever happen to him?
“Was to have a child throw up on me,” he said.
Some of the most asked questions he fields are “How is it at the North Pole?” “How is Mrs. Claus doing?” and “Where are the reindeer?”
“For that answer, I tell them that if I told them where the reindeer are, they would wake them up,” he said.
Some of the little tykes tell him they will be leaving a carrot along with the traditional milk and cookies for Santa, he said.
“I tell the children to try them out before I get there to make sure they are good,” he said.