Steampunk Santa!

He sees you when you’re crafting. He knows when you procrastinate. He knows if you use gears or cogs – and he sat down for an interview with the Pandora Society.

Tom Pellitieri, better known to many as Steampunk Santa, can be found year ‘round at various conventions and events, with or without goggles. During the holidays, he adds to his schedule, hiring himself out for Santa Visits to entertain at various functions.

Photo credit: Su Pellitieri

Photo credit: Su Pellitieri

Funny, kind, and certainly festive, Tom Pellitieri is a personality to remember, as is evidenced by his responses.

Me: Steampunk Santa. What gave you the idea to turn the jolly man into the jolly gentleman?

Tom Pellitieri: Well, Santa has always been a bit “old fashioned”.  I’m also a bit of a fop, and likes to dress well.  I’ve also been a costumer for theatrical groups and the Society for Creative Anachronism.  As a big guy, it’s a bit hard to find off-the-rack specialty clothing, so I wind up making a lot of my outfits anyway.

Toys and Games are one of Santa’s specialties, so checking up on people at the various gaming conventions, like Origins and Gen Con, is an important part of my schedule.  There, I noticed a lot of Steampunk folks, and realized they weren’t getting the visit from Santa that they should!

Me: This character seems unique in the fact that it’s, in a way, commonly accepted cosplay. After all, we see Santa in nearly every mall during that special time of year. Although your character and attire goes beyond that, do you find that this familiarity impacts your experience?

Tom Pellitieri: Certainly, people recognize me right away!  Although some disbelieving people will ask, “Are you Steampunk Santa?”  I do wind up reminding folks that they don’t have to be naughty to get coal — they can ask for it!  Asking nicely usually gets you the better quality for your steam engines.

 Me: How deep does the character go? (What makes the sleigh fly? Are the elves mechanical or biological in nature? Do gadgets help Santa separate naughty from nice? What devices help him get all those presents delivered in one night?)

 Tom Pellitieri: Well, the sleigh is still pulled by reindeer, but we use Rein-Dirigibles to stage gifts around the world.  We don’t have to keep flying back to the Pole to refill the toy bag!  There’s a lot of steam power running the workshops, and Santa has always been partial to steam trains for getting supplies.  Some of the elves are responsible for keeping all of those engines and machines running at full capacity, but there’s still a lot of handwork making all those gifts.  We still use snow globes to monitor people, and try to keep everyone off the naughty list.  It’s much simpler when we can just get gifts to everyone!

 Me: You work professionally as a visiting Santa during the holidays. What are your interactions with kids like when they see you? Have you ever had an opportunity to don the goggles for such an appearance?

 Tom Pellitieri: Children have the same reactions to seeing me no matter what I’m wearing in public!  Many will shy away behind their parents and whisper “There’s Santa!”.  Others will come up and ask for hugs.  Even adults notice, and usually ask me to confirm that they’re still on the Nice List.

I do enjoy visiting the children at the conventions with their parents when I’m wearing my top hat and goggles.  It makes for a fun photo opportunity.

 Me: Do you have any appearances planned in the near future?

 Tom Pellitieri: Obviously, my regular Santa Schedule is quite busy for December!  I hope to make it to various conventions, as time permits.  I still work a full-time day job, so vacation time is a bit of a premium.  Since I’m based in Toledo, I try to get to the conventions in Ohio and Michigan.  I also attend a gaming convention in Buffalo, NY, since that’s my original home town and alma mater.


For more information about Mr. Pellitieri, or to schedule a Santa Visit for your own event, please visit his website.


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