BALTIMORE (WJZ) — You might not spot Santa Claus at as many Christmas celebrations this year because of yet another shortage.

A professional placement company, Hire Santa, believes people were originally wary of reserving entertainers because of the pandemic. However, the wait ultimately led to a last-minute surge in requests for appearances that companies couldn’t always meet.

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According to Mitch Allen, the founder of Hire Santa, the company is down about 10% of their entertainers available for this year.

This issue is three-pronged: concerns of catching the coronavirus, deaths from the virus and other factors, and retirement from the profession.

According to local professional Santa Brian Marchetti, most entertainers are older than 60, putting them at a higher risk of being hospitalized from the virus.

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“Those of us who are willing to go out and work, we have to step up. We have to do more and we have to give more in order to make everybody happy,” Marchetti said.

Although this year Santa is being stretched thin, Marchetti said there is a way to avoid the mad dash for special guest appearances.

“My phone is still ringing today”, Marchetti said “I already have contracts going into 2022-2023.”

The key is to book as early as possible, especially if you have plans to throw a Christmas gathering at a third-party venue where days and times are limited.

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“That’s truly what being Santa is. It’s about creating lasting memories for people and giving them something they may have otherwise not have,” Marchetti said.

Cristina Mendez