Tulane Santa brings ho ho holiday cheer

December 22, 2014 11:00 AM

Sally Asher

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J. C. Paciera as Santa Claus

J. C. Paciera has been driving a shuttle at Tulane University since 2011. In his off hours, he works as Santa Claus during the Christmas season. (Photo by Sally Asher)

“The children pull at your heart strings.”

J. C. Paciera, on transforming into Santa Claus

J. C. Paciera may not have eight lively reindeer guiding him as he sits behind the wheel of the Tulane University shuttle bus, but he is definitely moved by the holiday spirit. 

As night manager of operations, Paciera has been helping “put the rubber on the road” for Tulane Shuttles and Transportation since 2011. In his off hours he works as Santa Claus during the Christmas season.  

Transforming into Mr. Claus is a job that the New Orleans native has been enjoying for 15 years. It allows him, he said, to “look and create the figure of Santa that lives inside each of us. It never goes away. It is set deep.”  

After playing Santa for his nephew’s first birthday, Paciera was hooked, and was soon “discovered” outside of his son’s karate school when a woman asked him if he could play Santa for the Fairmont Hotel. His career as the jolly man in red took off from there. 

One of Paciera’s favorite gigs is working with Children’s Hospital in New Orleans, where he sings songs, poses for photos and regales them with stories of reindeer antics at the North Pole. 

“The children pull at your heart strings,” Paciera said. He brings his ho-ho holiday cheer as Santa at the Royal Sonesta Hotel’s Royal Teddy Bear Tea, a New Orleans tradition that benefits Children’s Hospital, and also the hotel’s festive Lighting of the Balconies, where thousands of holiday lights illuminate the hotel’s wrought-iron balconies.  

Whether it is transporting Tulane students safely to their destinations through the “Gold Zone,” the one-mile radius of campus where he drives riders to their residences or vehicles, or listening to children share their Christmas wishes, Paciera brings his holiday joy and spirit to all.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu