The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, November 30, 1992, HOLIDAY SUPPLEMENT, Page 4&5, Image 19

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    Santa Claus prizes
time with children
Local man likes
to instill values
By Jeremy Fitzpatrick
Staff Reporter
Santa smiles at two children on
his lap.
“I want the two of you to be good
kids this year,” he says.
Their father interrupts:
“Santa docsn’t like whiners,” he
Santa laughs.
“Thai’s all part of growing up,
isn’t it?” he reassures the kids.
In this case, Santa and Don Hogg
are one and the same.
Hogg, a 58 year-old Nebraska
native, has resumed playing Santa
Claus this year after a 25-ycar ab
Hogg last look children’s Christ
mas wishes as a social worker at the
Nebraska State Orthopedic Hospi
tal between 1963 and 1967. He
played Santa for children who had
medical problems their family could
not afford to treat.
Before Hogg donned the red suit
and fluffy, white beard, prisoners
from the state penitentiary used to
perform the Santa Claus duties in
exchange for time off for good
behavior. That ended in 1963, Hogg
said, when some children saw the
leg irons and handcuffs being re
moved from the prisoners.
“Here was Santa Claus, being
set free,” he said.
Hogg then look over the duly of
playing Santa, which he did until
he left the hospital to go to graduate
school in 1967.
He said the most enjoyable part
of being Santa was surprising the
children with how much he knew
about them.
“A boy would say, ‘you don’t
know me,’ and I would say, ‘Yes,
your name is Jay,’” he said. “1 knew
everything about them.
*‘I had a wonderful lime doing
Hogg went on to administer the
state Medicaid program from 1970
to 1984. Now a scmi-rctircd stock
broker, he decided to return to be
ing Santa Claus this year when he
saw an ad lor Santas in the newspa
“When I saw an advertisement
for Santas, I said, ‘I’ve got to try
this again.”’
Hogg works as Santa at Gate
way Mall four hours a day, seven
days a week. He said the kids were
the same nowadays as they were in
“It’s very much the same,” he
sa id. “ K ids arc k ids and w i 11 al way s
be kids.”
Hogg said being a Santa was
easy. He just acts like he would
around his grandchildren.
“Santa Claus is very much like
being a Grandpa,” he said. “If you
arc a Grandpa, you arc a Grandpa to
all kids.
“That’s how Santa is — he be
longs to all kids.”
When he talks to the children,
Hogg said, he tries to instill good
values in them as well as taking
their Christmas requests.
“I always stress—I want you to
be sure and be good next year,” he
said. “A year from now I want you
to come back to see me.”
Hogg said he asked the children
if they helped their mothers and if
they would take care of and pick up
the toys they wanted him to bring
“Get a little girl, and she wants
a baby doll. Well, wonderful,” he
said. “(I ask her), will you take care
of the baby doll? Where will the
baby doll sleep?
“Orifachild wants Rollcrbladcs i
— I tell them how important it is to
be safe.”
Hogg said children’s requests
were generally realistic. Barbies
and Rollerbladesarcthc most com
monly requested items, he said,
although Batman toys arc also
Pet requests arc also common,
he said.
“And if I look over al the parent
I can tell if that kid is going to gel
a dog or cat,” he said.
Hogg said he was not sure if he
would continue playing Santa after
this year.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I’d
sure consider it any lime, because it
is such a rewarding experience.”
Photos by
Shaun Sartin/DN
Clockwise from upper left: Bob
Graveline of Omaha, better
known as Santa Claus, listens
attentively to the wishes of a
young believer at Oakview Mall
in Omaha.
On his way to a coffee break,
Santa finds a child hoping totag
Lending an understanding ear,
Santa tries to calm a bashful
A young boy expresses his
mouthwatering dreams as an
attentive Santa adds the child’s
wishes to his endless list.
Graveline dons his beard and
mustache before resuming his
seat before the children.
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