Ultimately, embodying the big man, Santas say, is not about the beard or the suit: it’s about believing you are him.
“When I put on my designer beard, I am Santa,” said Jim Manning, a 36-year-old from Somerville who portrays Santa at the annual Boston Common tree lighting, though he is decades from being able to grow his own Santa beard. “It’s all about portraying the character. You can have the greatest wig and beard set in the world, but if you don’t believe you’re Santa Claus, it doesn’t work. For those kids, I am Santa Claus.”
Billy Baker can be reached at email@example.com.