Nina Britt has traveled across Hampton Roads as “Sparkles Claus,” the wife to Santa, for more than two decades but it isn’t always easy being a companion to the Big Man.
“Mrs. Clauses are still fairly new in society,” she said. “We’re opening doors..the women are still fighting and the Mrs. Clauses are showing what our worth is and how we can be used.”
For the past 25 years, Britt and her husband, Mike Britt, have made Santa and Mrs. Claus come to life for a number of families and events across the area. But in that time, she said she has learned to realize just how underappreciated of a resource a Mrs. Claus can be.
Nina Britt said when she travels with her husband she usually has to pitch to a company or event why she would be a good addition. She pulls out her resume and describes the ways in which a female figure might be a huge help when handling scared children.
It’s something she has had to learn over the years, especially because she didn’t set out to be Mrs. Claus at first.
Britt said it all started when she met her husband when he was wearing a clown costume 24 years ago. She said he asked her to meet him outside later on and when she saw him again, he was dressed as Santa to go to an event.
The pair were married within nine months after meeting each other and ever since then, she’s been his Mrs. Claus and learning new aspects of the trade everyday.
“With this, you have to know your backstory because kids ask questions,” she said. “People ask how Santa and I met and I’m not going to say I met him at a parking lot down on the beach. You have to create something magical.”
Learning to be Mrs. Claus is a different task than learning to be Santa. When she and her husband attend conventions, she said she attends different classes than him. In Santa classes, interpreters learn concepts like beard care while in classes for Mrs. Claus, the women talk about what to do during hot flashes or, simply, “lady things,” she said.
During the annual Circus Magic Arts & Ministry convention in Williamsburg in February, there will be a “Super Santa Sunday” where Santa and Mrs. Claus interpreters can gather to learn specific aspects of the trade.
But going to the conventions and connecting with other Mrs. Claus interpreters is part of the fun.
Both Nina and Mike Britt are a part of the Southeastern Virginia Santas and Colonial Santas Facebook groups which helps connect them to hundreds of other Santa and Mrs. Claus interpreters throughout Hampton Roads, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
The Southeastern Virginia Santas group is an informal organization that gathers regularly during the off-season to talk about their work, Nina Britt said.
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“You have to stay educated,” she said. “I can reach out to others in the community to share stories, tips, all sorts of things.”
One of her favorite topics is outfits. She said while Santa is confined to a particular outfit, Mrs. Claus has a range of different dresses, aprons and styles she can choose from. Britt makes all of her costumes and so she finds it very helpful the Santa communities provide a resource for learning about different fabrics and stores.
But as each Christmas season comes around, she said she is prouder every year to be a part of family traditions and able to help give children an enjoyable Christmas.
“As Mrs. Claus, I’ve been able to see these children grow up,” she said. “I’ve [been able] to see little girls become mothers. It’s something special.”