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Meeting Santa and Mrs. Claus in Sea Cliff

Santa, who the rest of the year is

Santa, who the rest of the year is known as David Cairns of Sea Cliff, and Mrs. Claus, also known as Jennifer Dawson, greet children at Luke's Episcopal Church in Sea Cliff. (Dec. 4, 2011) Credit: Ann Luk

Like Tim Allen in the movie “The Santa Clause,” David Cairns learned to appreciate the role of Santa Claus after he got sucked into the job. After some peer pressure, he volunteered four years ago for “Cookies, Cocoa and Crafts with Santa and Mrs. Claus” at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Sea Cliff, where children can meet Old St. Nick.

Since then, the holiday gig has been an annual tradition for the Sea Cliff resident, with the latest event held Sunday afternoon.

“It’s important for a group of people to be able to bring their kids to see Santa. Instead of going to the Roosevelt Field mall, they can come here,” said Cairns, who said he thinks the event help builds community.

When he’s not Santa, Cairns, 76, resumes his hobby of glassblowing at his daughter’s store, Jane’s Glass Art, in Glen Head.

At the event Sunday, children ate Christmas treats, posed for a picture with Santa and Mrs. Claus and made Christmas-themed crafts. The event was created and run by Kristine Janusas, a member of the congregation.

Mrs. Claus was played by Jennifer Dawson, who has known Cairns since she was in the first grade and became friends with his daughter, Jane.

Dawson, 48, received a bachelor’s degree in theatre arts from Stephen College in Columbia, Mo., and is a member of Sea Cliff’s Silly Shakespeare Company. She produces voice-overs from her studio at home and resumes her role as Mrs. Claus every Christmas season.

Her tiny spectacles rose with her cheekbones when she smiled. She chuckled as some children hesitantly took small steps to the seat by Santa; then she rewarded their bravery with candy canes.

“Tiny ones feel more comfortable with Mrs. Claus,” Dawson explained.

The children didn’t doubt that the identities of Santa and Mrs. Claus, but one question does come up.

“All the kids want to know what Mrs. Claus’ first name is.”

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