Big man fills Santa’s shoes

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

Saint Ni­cholas, Fa­ther Christ­mas, Kris Kringle. He goes by many names but there’s no mis­tak­ing that big red suit.

There’s a new Santa Claus in town and he’s ready to take centrestage.

Luke Bird is the all-singing, all­danc­ing per­former who will don the jolly old fella’s fa­mous get-up at Coca-Cola Christ­mas in the Park on De­cem­ber 13.

The al­co­hol-free event starts at 7.30pm.

It is sup­ported by Fair­fax Me­dia, pub­lisher of the Auck­land City Har­bour News.

They are big shoes to fill but Bird says he’s the man for the job.

At 1.93 me­tres (6ft 4in) tall, the Mt Al­bert en­ter­tainer says he was never meant to go through life as a shrink­ing vi­o­let.

It was his stage pres­ence that landed him the gig as Santa.

‘‘I was re­ally ex­cited to be asked be­cause I’ve al­ways wanted to be Santa in a show,’’ he says.

‘‘I re­mem­ber watch­ing it as a child and think­ing he was awe­some.

‘‘It’s all about the kids – ev­ery­thing has to be big, bright and colour­ful.

‘‘I’m no hip-hop dancer but you get me up on that stage and this guy is crump­ing and twerk­ing.’’

Bird trained as a chef but de­cided the stage, not the kitchen, is his call­ing.

The 28-year-old has per­formed in pro­duc­tions of Cats, Hair­spray and The Phan­tom of the Opera.

It’s his third year per­form­ing at Christ­mas in the Park as Saint Nick. But it is the first time he will also be tak­ing to the stage as him- self to sing along­side An­gela Steele.

Be­com­ing Santa for the day is not all fun and games, Bird says.

‘‘I have a fat suit and that adds another cou­ple of de­grees in there – it’s so hot.

‘‘They usu­ally in­stall some ice packs on my shoul­ders be­cause you’re just swel­ter­ing and on top of that the whole cos­tume is so thick and big be­cause he’s lit­er­ally just come from the North Pole.’’

Photo: JESS LEE

Dou­ble take: Luke Bird will per­form as him­self and as Santa at Coca-Cola Christ­mas in the Park on De­cem­ber 13.

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