It’s all part of being Santa |

It’s all part of being Santa

Rick Gunn/Nevada Appeal Brady, left, and Brandon Steel, both 3, sit on Santa's lap at the Carson Mall on Tuesday. Santa will return from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. today.

By the end of today, Santa Claus will have taken the requests of nearly 3,000 Carson City children at the Carson Mall, and he will have answered the same question almost as many times: “Where’s Rudolph?”

“I tell them he’s in the North Pole resting up with the other reindeer,” Santa explained.

The Jolly Old Elf, who is known throughout most of the year as Richard Hinsz of Gardnerville, has spent the last three years keeping track of who’s naughty and nice.

“It’s fun watching the kids come in and seeing how excited they get. You can just see the excitement in their eyes,” he said. “Of course, you get some who start crying as soon as they see you.”

Kids come in with stories, letters and pictures to share.

“They want to let me know how good they’ve been and all the good things they do.”

Some come looking for absolution. One little girl brought a note saying that mostly she’d been good but apologized for cutting her little sister’s hair.

“She thought I was not going to bring her anything after that,” he recalled.

But Santa is more forgiving than that.

“I couldn’t help but laugh,” he confessed.

Not all moments are so jolly, however. Santa also hears stories of children whose families have recently split up, have lost a loved one or can’t afford anything for Christmas.

“You’ll see Santa crying over stuff like that. There’s so many of them you want to do something for,” he said. “You can tell they don’t have much but their wishes are still there.”

But as long as there is a Santa, there will always be hope. That’s the message he spreads, even to those who say they no longer believe.

“I tell them that as long as they believe in the spirit of giving and in the spirit of spreading joy, then there is a Santa.”

He will be at the Carson Mall again today from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. before loading up his sleigh and exclaiming ere he drives out of sight, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”

Contact Teri Vance at or at 881-1272.