Santa man

The man behind the beard is David Bates, Tulsa’s Kris Kringle.



David Bates and his “sled.” He starts preparing for the busy Christmas season in early October.

Evan Taylor

Many Tulsans put on a suit to go to work. So does David Bates. But his is a little jollier than most. This is Bates’ ninth season to play Santa Claus.

In January 2005, Bates retired from his job with Saint Francis Health System and decided to never shave again. For Halloween that year, he happened to be wearing a red T-shirt and his beard was white. He grabbed an old Santa hat laying nearby and answered the door for some trick-or-treaters.

“The wonderful response I received from the children was beyond description,” Bates recalls. “‘This is the wrong time of the year.’ ‘Where’s
Rudolph?’ It made my day and year.”

That got Bates’ wheels turning.

At the beginning of the 2005 Christmas season, Bates was watching his grandson sing at the Philbrook Museum of Art. Bates spoke to the museum’s Santa and left him his contact information. The museum asked him to fill in the last weekend of the year, and he replaced the former Santa the following year.

The Santa season generally starts around the first of October for Bates. That’s when he has his beard trimmed. He also checks his suit for wear and tear, and polishes his boots. In addition to making his list and checking it twice, of course.

His bookings vary each year, but Bates has visited a variety of locations as Santa. While Santa seekers are most likely to see him at Philbrook, he also visits Gilcrease Museum, the Tulsa Country Club, corporate Christmas parties, hospitals, schools and homes. He sits and visits with the children and adults at each event and takes pictures with them.

Christmas Eve is usually his busiest day, sometimes with five or six visits in one evening.

In 2006, Bates attended a get-together of Santas in Branson, Mo. There he networked with other Santas and received training on how to become a better Santa and how to deal with difficult children and adults. He was even asked to do a short commercial for the city of Branson later that year. (View it at TulsaPeople.com/santa.)

Bates says the most challenging part of being Santa is not over-extending himself with too many events. But he hates to say “no.” The best part, he says, is experiencing “the unconditional love and joy that a child brings.” He adds, “But it is not just the children, but the older adults. You see it in their eyes as they remember many joyous Christmases past.”

Occasionally, children will ask Bates if he’s “real.” He always asks, “What do you think?”

Bates says he plans to be Santa for 30 or more years. Just like in the 1994 movie “The Santa Clause,” Bates says the longer he performs, the more he becomes the man.

This year Bates will assist the U.S. Marines with their Toys for Tots distribution in Broken Arrow. His next adventure includes the lot beside his house. He bought the land in hopes to someday create a “Santa’s workshop” for parents and children to visit.


How to be a successful Santa

  1. Love the children, both the good and the bad. “I have had several opportunities to be a ‘mall Santa,’” Bates says. “However, working seven days a week from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve? No, thank you. These Santas get the children who are worn out and cranky from shopping.”
  2. Men who portray Santa must be sure of themselves, he says, or the children will sense their insecurity. With the love and adoration of so many, some Santas think they are the most important person in the world. And to the children, they are.
  3. An understanding wife is most important. “My wife has been very helpful in the last few years,” Bates says. “She goes with me usually where there are lots of young children. Her nearly 30 years of experience as a kindergarten teacher gives a calmness among the children during my visit, which makes my appearance much easier.”
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »You Might Like

‘To correspond, to wish’

A friendship began 12 years ago with a shoebox, a Precious Moments postcard and a little girl at an orphanage in Moldova.

Mmm-ustard

Steve Seikel’s condiment search led him to manufacture a made-in-Oklahoma product.

Gifts to sip

Wine Columnist Randa Warren shares her top picks for holiday gifting.
Edit Module

Add your comment:

 

Get the best in arts, entertainment and more straight to your inbox.

Join our email list

Edit ModuleShow Tags

May 2018

The work of renowned artist Christopher Curtis will be featured at Tulsa Botanic Garden’s first sculpture exhibit March 17 through August 26. Curtis works primarily in stone and he often...

Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 ages 13+, $4 ages 3-12. Kids 2 and under free

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
Website »

More information

Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

A leading figure in both contemporary film and art, Apichatpong Weerasethakul (born 1970) has developed a singular, realist-surrealist style in which the portrayal of the everyday alongside...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

FlyingTee is fun for the whole family and on Sundays, kids eat free! *Limit one free meal from the kids’ menu with each purchase of an adult entrée. Not valid on brunches or holidays.

Cost: Free with purchase

Where:
FlyingTee
600 Riverwalk Terrace
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Telephone: 918-528-7717
Website »

More information

It's a girl thing. Tulsa Metro Sound a cappella Show Chorus presents a Chocolate Remix. Come see what fun things we do weekly as we live, laugh and love our music. If you want to rekindle...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Christ Church Episcopal
10901 South Yale Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Metro Sound
Telephone: 918-352-6091
Contact Name: Candace C
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

A leading figure in both contemporary film and art, Apichatpong Weerasethakul (born 1970) has developed a singular, realist-surrealist style in which the portrayal of the everyday alongside...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

The work of renowned artist Christopher Curtis will be featured at Tulsa Botanic Garden’s first sculpture exhibit March 17 through August 26. Curtis works primarily in stone and he often...

Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 ages 13+, $4 ages 3-12. Kids 2 and under free

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
Website »

More information

 ORU offers a wide variety of summer camps from basketball camp to swimming camp for all ages. For a schedule and list of options visit ORUCES.com/camps.

Cost: Prices Vary

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74171
View map »


Telephone: 918-495-6000
Website »

More information

The Oklahoma Aquarium hosts Scout Days to honor all youth organizations and their members (such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Camp Fire, 4-H, FFA, etc.). There are special activities offered from...

Cost: $7 per student (age 3 and over) and or; $10 per adult

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
300 Aquarium Drive
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Telephone: 191-829-63474
Contact Name: Kara Lovell
Website »

More information

It's a girl thing. Tulsa Metro Sound a cappella Show Chorus presents a Chocolate Remix. Come see what fun things we do weekly as we live, laugh and love our music. If you want to rekindle...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Christ Church Episcopal
10901 South Yale Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Metro Sound
Telephone: 918-352-6091
Contact Name: Candace C
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

A leading figure in both contemporary film and art, Apichatpong Weerasethakul (born 1970) has developed a singular, realist-surrealist style in which the portrayal of the everyday alongside...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

The work of renowned artist Christopher Curtis will be featured at Tulsa Botanic Garden’s first sculpture exhibit March 17 through August 26. Curtis works primarily in stone and he often...

Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 ages 13+, $4 ages 3-12. Kids 2 and under free

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
Website »

More information

 ORU offers a wide variety of summer camps from basketball camp to swimming camp for all ages. For a schedule and list of options visit ORUCES.com/camps.

Cost: Prices Vary

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74171
View map »


Telephone: 918-495-6000
Website »

More information

It's a girl thing. Tulsa Metro Sound a cappella Show Chorus presents a Chocolate Remix. Come see what fun things we do weekly as we live, laugh and love our music. If you want to rekindle...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Christ Church Episcopal
10901 South Yale Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Metro Sound
Telephone: 918-352-6091
Contact Name: Candace C
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

A leading figure in both contemporary film and art, Apichatpong Weerasethakul (born 1970) has developed a singular, realist-surrealist style in which the portrayal of the everyday alongside...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

The work of renowned artist Christopher Curtis will be featured at Tulsa Botanic Garden’s first sculpture exhibit March 17 through August 26. Curtis works primarily in stone and he often...

Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 ages 13+, $4 ages 3-12. Kids 2 and under free

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
Website »

More information

Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

 ORU offers a wide variety of summer camps from basketball camp to swimming camp for all ages. For a schedule and list of options visit ORUCES.com/camps.

Cost: Prices Vary

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74171
View map »


Telephone: 918-495-6000
Website »

More information

It's a girl thing. Tulsa Metro Sound a cappella Show Chorus presents a Chocolate Remix. Come see what fun things we do weekly as we live, laugh and love our music. If you want to rekindle...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Christ Church Episcopal
10901 South Yale Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Metro Sound
Telephone: 918-352-6091
Contact Name: Candace C
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Throughout the show, Tommy Terrific explores Armstrong's fascinating life and numerous accomplishments. This very interactive show is great educational entertainment for children of all...

Cost: Free

Where:
41st and Riverside
400 Civic Center
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Riverparks Authority
Telephone: 918-596-2008
Contact Name: Ryan Howell
Website »

More information

The work of renowned artist Christopher Curtis will be featured at Tulsa Botanic Garden’s first sculpture exhibit March 17 through August 26. Curtis works primarily in stone and he often...

Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 ages 13+, $4 ages 3-12. Kids 2 and under free

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
Website »

More information

Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

A leading figure in both contemporary film and art, Apichatpong Weerasethakul (born 1970) has developed a singular, realist-surrealist style in which the portrayal of the everyday alongside...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

Join the Imagination Station for stories and songs in the park. Bring a blanket or a lawn chair. Afterward, cool off in the splash pad. Sponsored by River Parks Authority and Friends of the...

Cost: free

Where:
41st and Riverside Plaza
4100 S. Riverside Dr.
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Sponsor: Friends of the Helmerich Library
Telephone: 918-596-2001
Contact Name: Ryan Howell
Website »

More information

 ORU offers a wide variety of summer camps from basketball camp to swimming camp for all ages. For a schedule and list of options visit ORUCES.com/camps.

Cost: Prices Vary

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74171
View map »


Telephone: 918-495-6000
Website »

More information

It's a girl thing. Tulsa Metro Sound a cappella Show Chorus presents a Chocolate Remix. Come see what fun things we do weekly as we live, laugh and love our music. If you want to rekindle...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Christ Church Episcopal
10901 South Yale Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Metro Sound
Telephone: 918-352-6091
Contact Name: Candace C
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Invictus Healthcare System is offering free cancer screenings to all Oklahoma residents from June 1-June 8. We encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity to take control of their...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Invictus Healthcare System
9709 East 79th Street
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »


Sponsor: Invictus Healthcare System
Telephone: 918-994-4000
Contact Name: Taylor Martin
Website »

More information

A leading figure in both contemporary film and art, Apichatpong Weerasethakul (born 1970) has developed a singular, realist-surrealist style in which the portrayal of the everyday alongside...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

The work of renowned artist Christopher Curtis will be featured at Tulsa Botanic Garden’s first sculpture exhibit March 17 through August 26. Curtis works primarily in stone and he often...

Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 ages 13+, $4 ages 3-12. Kids 2 and under free

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
Website »

More information

Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

 ORU offers a wide variety of summer camps from basketball camp to swimming camp for all ages. For a schedule and list of options visit ORUCES.com/camps.

Cost: Prices Vary

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74171
View map »


Telephone: 918-495-6000
Website »

More information

Break the rules of conventional museums at the third annual Please Touch the Art exhibit. Mark your calendars for the opening reception Friday, June 1 from 5 - 9 p.m., in conjunction with the Tulsa...

Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: McKeon Center for Creativity
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Barton

More information

Crossing borders is central Consuelo J. Underwood’s artistic practice. In this exhibition inspired by land, politics, and spirit, Underwood speaks to her individual understanding of borders...

Cost: Free

Where:
108 Contemporary
108 E M.B. Brady St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: 108 Contemporary
Telephone: 918-895-6302
Website »

More information

It's a girl thing. Tulsa Metro Sound a cappella Show Chorus presents a Chocolate Remix. Come see what fun things we do weekly as we live, laugh and love our music. If you want to rekindle...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Christ Church Episcopal
10901 South Yale Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Metro Sound
Telephone: 918-352-6091
Contact Name: Candace C
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Come join us at the 2018 Take Me Fishing Day with Tess and Lacey from News on 6 at the Broken Arrow Events Park near NSU. This fun and family-friendly fishing event will have goodies for the first...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Broken Arrow Events Park
21101 East 101st Street
Broken Arrow , OK  74014
View map »

More information

Make some great memories with your kids at the annual Take Me Fishing Event by Zebco on Saturday, June 2, 7AM - Noon. It's free, fun, and family-friendly. Located at 4 Tulsa area parks---...

Cost: Free

Where:
Mohawk, LaFortune, Veterans-Jenks, BA Events Park
Mohawk Park-East Side Pond; LaFortune Park-51st / Hudson St.; Veterans Park-Jenks; BA Events Park-21101 E. 101st St.
4 Tulsa Area Parks , OK
View map »


Sponsor: Zebco
Telephone: 1-800-494-3224
Website »

More information

Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

The work of renowned artist Christopher Curtis will be featured at Tulsa Botanic Garden’s first sculpture exhibit March 17 through August 26. Curtis works primarily in stone and he often...

Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 ages 13+, $4 ages 3-12. Kids 2 and under free

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
Website »

More information

A leading figure in both contemporary film and art, Apichatpong Weerasethakul (born 1970) has developed a singular, realist-surrealist style in which the portrayal of the everyday alongside...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

 ORU offers a wide variety of summer camps from basketball camp to swimming camp for all ages. For a schedule and list of options visit ORUCES.com/camps.

Cost: Prices Vary

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74171
View map »


Telephone: 918-495-6000
Website »

More information

Listen to the stories from the borderlands as Underwood leads an artist talk about her inspirations, creations, and travels. As she shares the voices of her indigenous ancestors, she will discuss...

Cost: Free

Where:
108 Contemporary
108 E M.B. Brady St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: 108 Contemporary
Website »

More information

Break the rules of conventional museums at the third annual Please Touch the Art exhibit. Mark your calendars for the opening reception Friday, June 1 from 5 - 9 p.m., in conjunction with the Tulsa...

Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: McKeon Center for Creativity
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Barton

More information

It's a girl thing. Tulsa Metro Sound a cappella Show Chorus presents a Chocolate Remix. Come see what fun things we do weekly as we live, laugh and love our music. If you want to rekindle...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Christ Church Episcopal
10901 South Yale Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Metro Sound
Telephone: 918-352-6091
Contact Name: Candace C
Website »

More information

The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) hosts a Swing dance and lessons  The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) is the only UNESCO recognized dance organization in Oklahoma.  We are a 501c3...

Cost: $7

Where:
Community Center - South Minister Presby Church
3500 So Peoria
1/2 west of Peoria, on 35pl behind the church
Tulsa, OK  74102
View map »


Sponsor: The Ok Swing Syndicate
Telephone: 918-450-691
Contact Name: Rita Robbins
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

TULtalk


QUIZ: Which Renaissance Festival Character Are You?

In another life, perhaps you were a fair princess or a noble knight... or perhaps you were the village fool!

Comments

7 Reasons to Love Mayfest

The 46th annual art festival set for May 17-20

Comments

Discovery Lab makes house calls

The lab’s nano exhibition will travel to nine THA family housing communities in 18 months, spending six to eight weeks at each site.

Comments

QUIZ: Which May Festival Are You?

May is here, and so is festival season! Which one of Tulsa's late spring shindigs do you personify?

Comments

QUIZ: Which Oklahoma Proven Plant Are You?

Are you a pretty pink petunia or a wild and crazy shrubbery? Find out in this quiz!

Comments