A BIG CHAIR had an empty seat. The man booked to play Santa in the 2010 Festival on the Square in Granite Falls died unexpectedly. The Caldwell County town needed a new Santa with little time to find one.
The festival director sought a hometown teen who studied at UNC School of the Arts. The student—17-year-old Caleb Sigmon—initially turned down the part, but decided he couldn’t leave a Christmas festival without a Santa.
Caleb, however, loved it. He’s been playing Santa ever since. Now, at 24, Caleb remains an unlikely Santa. There’s his age, for one. And his appearance. This professional actor and illusionist passes more easily for a young Benedict Cumberbatch than a Saint Nicholas.
The transformation comes via his wife Katy, a professional theatrical costume designer. She created his custom Santa suit, and although the magic of Santa can be in question, the magic of Katy’s costume cannot. Put a picture of Caleb in everyday life beside a picture of him as Santa, and it’s tough to spot a similarity.
Even though Caleb doesn’t naturally look like Santa, he does sound like him. The energy. The enthusiasm. The love of kids and magic. This is not just a gig, but it’s the role he anticipates all year: working long hours each holiday season to bring smiles to kids—which sounds like the job description of someone else…
Caleb will be Santa in this year’s uptown and South End tree lightings. And, as always, he’ll return to that original big chair in Granite Falls. Here he is in his own words, edited for clarity and length.