Annual Santa Gigs Bring Joy to Mich. Attorney, Along With Serious Responsibilities

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A Michigan lawyer has attended a continuing education class every year since 2004 that he takes as seriously as law school.

It’s for those, like attorney Roland Davenport, for whom playing Santa every year is a top priority. Although his day job as an Ann Arbor sole practitioner prevents him from working an eight-hour shift at a shopping mall, Davenport has his beard and brows whitened and invested in a $750 red-and-white suit to look his best for the 20 to 30 appearances he makes as the jolly old elf each year at events in the Detroit metropolitan area, reports

He has arrived in a one-horse open sleigh when the occasion called for it, the newspaper notes.

He also teaches a class on Santa’s legal responsibilities during his annual brush-up at the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Mich. The course focuses on issues ranging from simple contracts for Santa appearances to avoiding potential trouble. (Davenport advises that those playing Santa never go into a restroom with a child unless another adult is present.)

A religious man, Davenport said he plays Santa at Christmas each year because he loves the holiday season and there isn’t as much call for appearances by Jesus.

A professional Santa knows how to avoid promising to provide children with their toys of choice, particularly when they want electronic items during a recessionary economy, he notes. However, some children are seeking even more:

“Sometimes I’m asked to bring a dad or a brother home from Iraq or Afghanistan or bring a mom home from the hospital or to make her better,” said Davenport. “Sometimes, that’s all they’ll ask for.

“I tell them that Santa doesn’t have that kind of magic power, but I tell them that Mrs. Claus and I will offer a prayer. I know not everyone is religious, that not everyone believes in God. But I’m limited by what I can offer. I want to keep hope alive.”

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