Volume 22, Number 31 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | December 11 - 17, 2009
From our archives
“From Broadway to Seaport, a role of a lifetime”
By Jen Campbell
Dec. 14 - 27, 1999
When the Downtown Express profiled him ten years ago, Roger Franklin, a k a the “Seaport Santa,” had been named “Best Dressed Santa” in New York two years in a row by The New York Times. Franklin said his look was “very much in keeping with the old buildings in the Seaport.” This Santa sported red pants, a red and green flannel shirt, a holly-covered Santa cap, and an apron full of candy canes.
Before he was a Downtown Santa, Franklin made his living as an actor, which he continued to do into the off-season, starting with Shakespeare when he was ten years old. Franklin also appeared in musicals.
Though he was not as well versed as the “real” Santa Clause, Franklin was able to speak several words in six different languages, French and German being his strongest.
Once, when he realized a little girl couldn’t understand him when he told her “Merry Christmas,” he asked her parents what language she spoke and repeated it to her in Russian as he offered her a candy cane. “She smiled and ran into my arms,” Franklin recalled.
He signed Merry Christmas to a deaf woman that same day, and she was delighted that Santa could communicate with her.
A little boy who had been shadowing Franklin all day told him, “I never believed in Santa before, but I do now.”
While Seaport Santa received shouts from adults asking, “Think you’ll bring us anything this year? I’ve been very good,” the kids asked the bigger questions.
“Santa, do you believe in miracles?” to which Franklin replied, “Of course I do, don’t you?”
Franklin is currently in his 20th year as the Seaport Santa this Christmas season, and children and adults alike still ask him if he’s the real deal.
Prepared by Helaina N. Hovitz