Holiday Help: Support Groups for Santas

"We prefer chubby men, of course, ideally with a real beard, but we're not picky and take what we get," director Rene Heydeck told Reuters. "In a lot of families in Berlin it's a tradition that carries on even after the children grow older and stop believing."

But in retail-rich New York City, department stores never stop believing or finding the right men. At Macy's Herald Square Santa Land, where Santa has served as grand marshal of the Thanksgiving Day parade since 1924, Santa works for free.

"We have the real deal here, and he's as old as the beginning of time," said Macy's spokesman Elina Kazan. "We have a special relationship with Santa, who comes from the North Pole. We're his home away from home, and we take good care of him."

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