FORBS' War of the Santas

St. Nicks across the country keep fighting for control of America's premier Santa organization

How do you come back from that?

*     *     *

On Dec. 29, 2010, Trolli appeared on FOX Business Channel, stating during the interview his belief that only Santas with real beards are "authentic" portrayers of Santa Claus. Seemingly professional and personable, he also said that a good Santa could earn between $10,000 to $25,000 per Christmastime.

Jolly ol' Saint Ric
Riley Kern
Jolly ol' Saint Ric
Real-bearded Santa Timothy Connaghan
Riley Kern
Real-bearded Santa Timothy Connaghan

The Weekly tried contacting Trolli and Germann for comment for this story. Germann's website,, is down.

"Jeff Germann seems to have disappeared," Santa Ric told me. "Anyway, he's been formally excommunicated from the Santa community."

I emailed Santa Nick at and called the number listed there, but I couldn't get any response from Trolli, who now lives in Florida. I contacted some Santas mentioned on and got the name of Tommy Avallone, who's producing a movie featuring Trolli called I Am Santa Claus with wrestling great Mick Foley. The movie, funded by a Kickstarter campaign, has been in production since 2011, and will be submitted to film festivals in 2014. The Kickstarter copy reads, "I Am Santa Claus is a documentary that poses a question about a ubiquitous holiday figure that few parents ever ask themselves—'Whose lap is my child sitting on?'

"Santa Nicholas is the president of the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas. He is one of the most unliked Santas in the Christmas community, having a very public feud with Santa Tim Connaghan, a.k.a. 'Santa Hollywood.'"

"I don't think [Trolli will] answer," Avallone said, responding on Santa Nick's behalf. "He doesn't really talk to people about the war too much. . . . A lot of reporters get the story wrong. Nick does talk about the war in our film, though."

Erwin worked with Avallone on the film project in its early days. "They interviewed me twice, and I provided all the archival footage they needed," said Santa Ric. "But I have no editorial control. He's changed directions in the film, and I think it might be turning into something of a hatchet job. I'd like to see some of the rushes and see if there's any reason to withdraw."

I called Connaghan, and we talked about the upcoming Christmas season and his lineup of gigs. I asked what he thought of Trolli and the Santa Wars half-a-decade on. "This is not what it's all about," he said. "We could have tried to take him to court. . . . But argument is not what we're about. Our job is bringing joy to the children; that's what we're about."

His thought reminds me of a line from the Santa Claus Oath: "I realize that I belong to a brotherhood and will be supportive, honest and show fellowship to my peers."

Now I know Santa Claus is real, but what did Uncle Bill mean about all the fake stories?

Did he mean that The Night Before Christmas was actually written by Major Henry Livingston Jr., an amateur New York poet with Dutch roots, and not by Clement Clarke Moore?

Did he mean that the village of Nazareth didn't exist until the 3rd century A.D.?

Did he mean that Yeshu'a the Messiah (a.k.a. Jesus the Christ) shared the Dec. 25 birth date with Roman gods Sol Invictus and Persian import Mithras?

Did he mean that Santa Claus, who originated as a mythical androgynous solar deity (circles the world in a day, etc.) is now an androgynous socio-capitalist icon who represents a balance between markets and people?

Or did he mean that really, really deep, dark secret about Nicholas and the Nicholaitans?

The name Nicholas (or Nicolas) means "one who conquers the people." A man named Nicholas first appears in the Bible in the Acts of the Apostles as one of the deacons of the early church. This Nicholas was a proselyte—a convert from polytheism to Judaism to Christianity.

Several early church fathers stated that the deacon Nicholas began the Nicholaitanism movement twice referred to in the Book of Revelation. In Revelation 2:6, Jesus tells the church of Ephesus how impressed he is that "thou hatest the deeds of the Nicholaitans, which I also hate."

Nicholaitan is the symbolic name of a party that represented the hierarchy of a misogynistic, anti-Semitic ruling leadership class. In her book Nicholaitan: Power and Control in Christianity, author Paula Fether says the consensus among historians about the Nicholaitans is of a group or movement defined by its desire to control and exert power and authority over people.

Jesus rejected priests and loathed the lust for religious power over others. Nonetheless, the clerical system at the heart of the doctrine of the Nicholaitans later developed into the papal hierarchy of the Roman church with its celibate (unmarried but not sexually abstinent), male clergy dominating a "flock" of human sheep laity. Belief mandatory under pain of hellfire. So constituted, they ran Western Europe for 1,000 years until the Protestants came along, rejecting the priests and the mass but amping up the misogyny and misanthropy. Nicholaitans were also said to observe the Roman solar-mass to Apollyon ("Destroyer") on Dec. 25 and engage in pederasty and pedophilia, which has carried on in the church's priesthood to this day.

« Previous Page
Next Page »