I'm the healthy version of Santa

I'm the healthy version of Santa

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HO! HO! HO! Mr Rob Hoffman at the Robinsons department store at Raffles City Shopping Centre.

He's the real deal.

Professional Santa Claus Rob Hoffman boasts a long white beard, wire-rimmed glasses riding low on his nose, and a deep, bellowing "Ho! Ho! Ho!".

The 71-year-old hails from Maine, in the north-eastern region of the US, and has been as a store Santa every Christmas season for the past 10 years.

You could say the retired airline pilot fell into the job by accident.

"I stopped shaving, and my beard came out white. My friends started suggesting that I consider the role of Santa," says the grandfather of two, whose bright blue eyes crinkle when he grins.

Although there are schools around the world dedicated to training men how to walk, talk and sit like Santa, Mr Hoffman never attended one.

But he is sure of one thing: An authentic beard separates "real" Santas from the fakes.

"Tug on this, and it won't come off," he says, referring to his facial hair, which is white with a slight tinge of blonde.

In case you are wondering if his beard gets treated to a plethora of conditioners to keep it in tip-top shape, the answer is "no".

He beams with pride when this reporter asks about his get-up. While some Santas may put on sneakers or street shoes, this Santa's footwear are thick, high-cut boots, made in Texas.

The crimson-coloured velvet which his costume is largely made out of comes from Germany, he points out. He gets a new costume made every two to three years.

His get-up is so convincing that his own grandchildren often do not recognise him.

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