THE ROOKIE SIGNED up to catch crooks and crouch behind
cars like the cops on television. He saw himself like on NYPD Blue
or any of the other cop shows where he could run behind a car and
draw out his nine-millimeter and blow away a few bad guys. But here
he sat in the parking lot of Caputo’s with the radio telling him to go
investigate the appearance of Santa. He should be at home with his
wife and his baby, not driving to arrest some nut in his backyard
dressed up like Santa.
But that was how the call came in. “Man dressed as Santa Claus
in a sled with reindeer.” He had asked dispatch to repeat the report.
“MAN-DRESSED-AS-SANTA-WITH-REINDEER IN BACKYARD.
PLEASE INVESTIGATE. POSSIBLE MOVIE SET.” That was Ruth,
and he could just see her rolling her eyes. A movie set? He wondered
if there had been any permits given to production companies in the
area. Usually they notified the police.
As the rookie drove through the snow, he wondered if he might
make a contact. He had written a screenplay that he had sent around
and received no response. If it wasn’t a movie, then he would have to
figure out if a man in a Santa suit with reindeer was disturbing the
peace. He would think a homeowner would be allowed to sit in his
backyard in a sled. The reindeer might be a problem. It might be some
dad trying to convince his kids that there really was a Santa Claus.
He turned his squad car and could see lights shining down the
street. Cars and trucks were parked on the sides of the street, and he
saw people walking toward a lit-up house. Definitely a movie shoot.
The rookie felt excitement down in his stomach as he flipped on the
squad’s cherries and drove toward the lights.
George watched the cop crunch across the snow talking into
his shoulder. The radio hissed back as he stared straight ahead like
someone pulled over for drunk driving.
He turned to a cop with smooth skin and perfect hair.
“Yes,” he said, with Jeremy next to him dressed like an elf.
“Sir, is this your sled and …” He paused, looking at the chewing
reindeer. “And your reindeer, sir?”
“Yes, officer, they are.” George nodded. “What can I do for you?”
Dean crossed the snow in a frenzy and held out his hand.
“Dean Sanders, officer. I’m the director of this production, officer,”
he announced, shaking the rookie’s hand.
The cop stared at the camera crane and nodded slowly. “So …
this is a movie?”
“Oh yes, sir, officer,” Dean answered, nodding. “Real Santa is the
name. We were just about to shoot our scene when you pulled up.”
The rookie smoothed back his hair.
“Okay, now did you get a permit to shoot this film, because we
have had some complaints from the neighbors.”
Dean frowned. “You know we filed for our permit, but we never
heard back, and you know it’s just one scene, and then we are all
The cop’s eyes darkened.
“I’m afraid that without a permit, I’m going to have to shut you
down. There are some traffic issues, and you have a lot of lights that
are bothering people—”
Dean held up his hand like a man requesting divine intervention.
“Look, officer, we have invested thousands of dollars for this one
shoot—if you could look the other way, I could make it worth your
while,” he said in a low voice.
“Are you trying to bribe me, sir?”
Dean held out his hands.
“Oh, not a bribe, officer—a favor.”
George could see this was going off the rails very quickly.
“Officer …” He handed the reins to his son and turned in the sled.
“I know this looks ridiculous, but I think I can explain.” He gestured
to his house and the room with the movie light shining into the
snow. “You see that yellow window with the snow? My daughter is
up in that bedroom. She is nine years old and has started to doubt
the existence of Santa Claus.”
The rookie crossed his arms. “Go on.”
“And so I thought that I could give her faith back to her if I became
the Real Santa Claus—if she was able to see a real Santa fly onto the
roof and deliver her gifts and then fly away in a sled.”
The cop looked at the sled and frowned. “You’re going to fly in
“If I may interject, officer,” Dean said, gesturing to the roof. “He
will not actually fly, but we will create the illusion of him flying. See
those smoke machines up there and those digital projectors?”
Dean took him by the arm and pointed to the far side of the roof.
“We will project the image of Santa flying against the smoke, and
then George here will run the reindeer up on the roof and come to a
stop in front of his daughter’s window, creating the illusion of flying.
Then when it’s time for him to leave, he will do the same thing and
go down the ramp on the other side.”
The cop shook his head. “That’s pretty neat. What about the
chimney? How are you going to do that?”
George motioned to the two mountaineers hanging off the chimney
“I’m going to rappel down the chimney with the gifts, then I’m
going to be hoisted back up.”
“Holy shit,” the rookie muttered, staring at the chimney lit by
three movie lights. “And you hired all these people here—this isn’t
really a movie shoot?”
George shook his head. “Dean is a film director who I hired to
help me and has decided he wants to film it, which I’m fine with, but
no, this is really all about keeping a little girl’s belief in Santa.”
The cop stared at Jeremy.
“Who is the elf?”
“My oldest son.”
Jeremy held up a hand. “Hello.”
George turned around and saw his father behind him.
“And this is my dad.”
“Glad to know you, officer,” Kronenfeldt Sr. said, shaking his hand.
“My son is crazy, but it’s a good kind of crazy, officer,” he added.
The rookie rubbed his jaw and puckered his mouth.
“So you see, mate, all we really need is about thirty minutes, and
then we are all done here, and we can restore the faith of a little girl!”
The rookie stared at the ramp and the reindeer and the people
on the roof and the lights set up in the corners of the yard. He shook
his head slowly and looked at George.
“You did all this to convince your daughter that there is a Santa
He nodded solemnly. “Yes.”
“I got a baby at home, but I don’t know if I would do all this if she
didn’t believe in Santa Claus.”
“Wait. You’ll do whatever it takes to keep her happy.”
“What did this cost you?”
“About eighty grand.”
The cop looked at him then at the reindeer and the ramp.
“Alright, I’ll give you a half-hour. But if the neighbors call in again,
I’m going to have shut you down.”
Dean motioned the crane operator and his assistants.
“Alright, folks,” he announced. “IT’S SHOWTIME!”
Real Santa...Holiday Sale
MOVIE RIGHTS SOLD!
Vicki Rocco of Modern Family optioned the movie rights of William Hazelgrove's Real Santa for her production company Small But Mighty Productions with an eye to a feature or a made for television movie. Ms. Rocco has to her credits, Modern Family, Arrested Development, Stand and Deliver, U23D, Empire Dreams, Heather, Britany Spears Live, and sees Real Santa as a classic that will pull in people hungry for a new take on the Christmas movie. "No one has done this. No one has taken on the physics of being Santa Claus. It is funny and heartwarming and has all the things we look for in any great Christmas movie."
STARRED REVIEW BOOKLIST
"If somebody doesn't make a movie out of this book, there's something wrong with the world.
David Pitts Booklist
"The author marries the everyday dramas found in the novels of Tom Perrotta and Nick Hornby to the high camp of Carl Hiaasen or Dave Barry. Adults looking for a funny holiday-themed tale that doesn't lose its sense of wonder in the face of realism will find a treat here. A lovingly crafted comedy about the madness that fatherhood inspires."
Best-selling author Hazelgrove (e.g., Ripples; Tobacco Sticks) captures the human need to believe in something good. This book will satisfy readers looking for a happy Christmas story.-- Library Journal