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Virtual Santa Spreads Holiday Cheer


As the global pandemic leads more families to re-imagine holiday celebrations, western Kentuckians have found a new way to spread holiday cheer through virtual visits with Santa.

Jacob Waid is a former Santa impersonator from Nashville who runs the Facebook page Jacob’s Friend Santa. He said he originally came up with the idea of virtual Santa visits as the pandemic made it “not as safe as it used to be.”

Waid said he wanted families to be able to talk to Santa without worrying about health risks. He said virtual calls can be personalized and last longer than the average trip to the mall to see Santa.

“I realized this might be an area people are concerned about,” he said. “All families have different levels of personal safety.”

Waid created the page in early December and said the community response has been a positive experience so far, and is “picking up speed.” It started out as a hobby, and now Jacob’s Friend Santa has more than 100 followers. He said most of his customers are friends from the greater western Kentucky area.

“For my friends and family, to see me being Santa Claus to their children, [it] brings a lot of joy not only to them but to their kids as well,” he said.

Jacob’s Friend Santa offers video messages as well as phone calls and FaceTime/Zoom calls for up to 10 minutes. Both Waid and his wife, Kate, operate the page. Families may directly message Waid. Video messages are $5, phone calls are $10, and FaceTime or Zoom calls are $25.

Waid is not the only one adapting Saint Nick to the pandemic. Many Santas have found similar ways to continue hearing Christmas wishes, including from inside a plastic bubble.

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