Santa time

The jolly one arrives at Crossroads Mall

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen The exact item Caleigh Klass, 5, of Fort Dodge asked Santa for Saturday morning remains between her and the jolly elf, but it might have been shockingly expensive. Her brother, Tavian Klass, 11, patiently awaits his turn to share his list. Santa arrived at the Crossroads Mall Saturday for his annual visit.

As anyone knows, Santa has many talents.

He’s a certified sleigh pilot.

He knows, by magic, who’s been naughty or nice.

He can zip up and down a chimney flue almost instantly.

And he knows how to make a grand and spectacular entrance when he arrives for his annual visit to the Crossroads Mall in Fort Dodge.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen harlotte Nielson, 2, of Lu Verne, her dad, Justin Nielson, and her sister, Lorraine Nielson, 4, meet Santa.

His sleigh journey begins at the North Pole with a highly classified landing at the Fort Dodge Regional Airport just seconds after his departure. Then he’s whisked away under heavy security and maximum secrecy to a hidden stable where he, and his entourage of elves and reindeer, board a horse-drawn carriage for the final leg of the journey.

Santa, as is his jolly nature, is actually rather relieved the temperatures dropped.

“I kind of enjoy flying into cool temperatures,” he said. “It’s not as much of a shock.”

The overnight frost, while it produced no snow, did provide some icy surfaces suitable for the sleigh.

“That’s what we landed on,” he said.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen Santa, followed by a group of children and adults who are on the "nice" list, arrived at the Crossroads Mall Saturday morning for his annual personal visit. Santa will be at the mall today from Noon to 5 p.m. then take a short hiatus to return the day after Black Friday.

Santa would not, citing secrecy, disclose where exactly that patch of icy surface is. It’s believed to be inside a hangar at the airport.

“I will not confirm or deny that,” he said. “I simply don’t recall.”

Fort Dodge Regional Airport Manager Rhonda  Chambers wouldn’t tell either.

“We like to protect the privacy of our hangar tenants,” she said. “All I can tell you is that I did see the fire trucks spraying water on the floor of one.”

Getting Santa in and out requires fuel. Chambers said that while the airport sells jet fuel and aviation gas, neither of those are suitable for Santa’s sleigh.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen Santa waves to the large group of children and adults - all on the "nice" list - who waited for him to arrive at the Crossroads Mall Saturday morning.

Not to worry, though.

“Of course we’re willing to accommodate,” she said. “We have about 300 acres of grass off the runway areas. We have lots of food.”

As is tradition, cookies were waiting for Santa once he arrived at the mall. Featuring a smiling frosting Santa topping, Santa found the idea of eating miniature sugar replicas of himself just a little unsettling.

“I’m not eating one,” he said before reluctantly changing his mind. “Well, maybe just one. They are cookies after all.”

Amber Lewis, of Fort Dodge, brought her daughter, Morgan Lewis, 8, to visit with Santa.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen Morgan Lewis, 8, of Fort Dodge, holds up a sugary version of Santa while posing with the real deal Saturday morning at the Crossroads Mall.

She wasn’t sure what she was going to ask Santa for exactly, but did mention LEGOs.

Her mom has seen this slight hesitation many times before.

“I used to be one of the elves that helped,” Amber Lewis said.

Her career was cut short, though.

“I aged out of it,” she said.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen Morgan Lewis, 8, of Fort Dodge, holds up a sugary version of Santa while posing with the real deal Saturday morning at the Crossroads Mall. The look alike cookies proved too much for Santa and he declined to eat his miniature self.

While she’s perfectly willing to offer the current elf, Lydia “Lizzie” Verschoor, 13, of the North Pole and Fort Dodge, tips, Verschoor seemed to have the job well under control.

“It’s always fun to see the kids happy,” she said. “It’s the best feeling in the world.”

Rudolph came along for the visit too. His nose was indeed shining, and quite brightly.

“It’s stored up all year long,” he said.

Even though it isn’t needed, Rudolph still keeps it on.

“There’s plenty of light, but the kids love the red glow,” he said.

Adam Klass, of Fort Dodge, brought his two children, Tavian Klass, 11, and Caleigh Klass, 5, to visit with Santa. During any visit with Santa, the dreaded naughty/nice list is always going to be an issue.

“She’s on the nice list,” Tavian Klass said of his sister’s odds of finding presents under the tree.

Dad’s assessment: well, maybe.

“You’ve got a 50-50 shot on that one,” Adam Klass said.

She’s got plenty of time to change that if, indeed, she’s a little on the naughty list side.

“There’s always time for kids to make it onto the nice list,” Santa said.

If she does, and we have it on good authority that she will, a toy dinosaur is at the top of the wish list.

Why not a real one?

“It would eat our house,” Caleigh Klass said.

For Claire Simpson, 7, of Fort Dodge, Santa provoked a mystery. She thought that Santa sounded an awful lot like her grandfather.

Her mom, Cindy Simpson, is pretty sure that Santa is not, a member of their family.

“I’m positive it’s not your grandpa,” she said.

For many adults bringing their children to see Santa, the experience brings back memories of their own childhood and offers an opportunity to give their own a great memory.

Justin Nielson, of Lu Verne, brought his children, Lorraine Nielson, 4, and Charlotte Nielson, 2.

“It’s great,” he said. “Words can’t explain it. Anything I can do to make them happy.”

He had one item on his Christmas list.

“I want to spend it with these two,” he said.

Santa himself  has a short list. This year it includes a new pair of boots; his current ones, 800 years old, suffered a zipper failure Saturday.

“I think they’re going to arrive shortly,” he said.

Santa will be at the Crossroads Mall today from noon to 5 p.m. He will take a short mini-vacation to shop for Mrs. Claus until Black Friday when he will be available from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. His regular schedule will then be Monday through Friday from 1 to 7 p.m.; Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.

He will stay until Christmas Eve day, although he will be leaving early. That night will, after all, be a rather busy one.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen In spite of assurances from her mom, Cindy Simpson, of Fort Dodge, Penelope Simpson, 2, is pretty sure that getting up on Santa’s lap is not going to be on her Saturday morning agenda. Her older sister, Claire Simpson, 7, at left, thought Santa’s voice sounded like her grandfather’s.