DARIEN – Whether it’s the holiday season or a 90-degree day in July, kids will ask to see Michael Boren, aka Santa Claus, year-round as they’re filled with Christmas wonder admiring the real white hair and beard on the always friendly impersonator.
“I used to completely shave like the first week of January, and the last three years I haven’t done that, I’ve just shaved it really short,” said Boren, who also works at Costco in Oak Brook. “Even with the short beard, kids see me in the food court, and the parents would have to bring them by before they went shopping because they wanted to see if Santa was in the food court.”
The Darien resident and his wife, Tricia, have played Santa and Mrs. Claus for the past 24 years as part of their company, Madison Entertainment.
Each holiday season starting the weekend before Thanksgiving up until Christmas Eve, the Borens make visits to residents and holiday parties; they greet people at the La Grange Country Club and Adventist Hinsdale Hospital’s New Day Center; and they were a part of the Clarendon Hills Park District Santa Train ride this year.
“The thing we do differently is we don’t just come in, sit down and leave, we come in and sing songs and we act out the 12 days of Christmas,” Tricia said. “When we come into their houses it’s more like we’re a part of the family. It’s something we’ve been doing for years and it’s a special night.”
The couple has been together for the past 25 years after meeting at a resort in Florida. Tricia said Michael is a redhead, but he started going gray at a young age and eventually his beard and hair became white. For a period of time in the business, Michael did wear a fake beard, but he hated it and at 50 stopped shaving it entirely.
Being an authentic Santa, and coincidentally sharing his birthday on St. Nicholas Day, Michael may be one of the centers of attention, but Tricia is nothing short of a quick witted ball of enthusiasm, which made her next comment even more surprising.
“I was a really shy child when I was growing up and I’m completely making up for shy time now,” Tricia said. “I think it was high school when I started coming out and it was actually at LT where I started auditioning for their theater.”
While a freshman at Lyons Township High School, Tricia would even dress up as Santa Claus and pass out mini candy canes. It’s that same attention she loves when she visits residents, some of which the couple have been visiting each holiday season in the area for 15 years.