In Thailand, Santa Claus doesn’t slide down chimneys, but instead delivers gifts from the back of an elephant.
Such was the case Dec. 24 at the Thai Garden Resort where the youngest guests waited anxiously for Father Christmas, who was a bit delayed due to Pattaya’s traffic.
To entertain the guests, the children of Tung Klom Talman School, which the hotel sponsors, danced and sang Christmas carols. Owner Gerrit Niehaus and wife Anselma, General Manager Rene Pisters and his wife Ploy, Manager Danilo Becker and his family led the audience in applause.
Becker introduced the children and said that all the money and other donations collected through December will go to the school. Most of the children there have lost one or both parents. The fundraising drive continues through Jan. 7.
Finally Santa and Rudolph the Long-Nosed Elephant arrived and he climbed down to sit by the Christmas tree with a big sack of presents. Each child’s name was called and they sat on Santa’s knee to collect their gift.
Gifts unwrapped, it was time to eat from the hearty buffet with music provided by the Thai Garden Trio.
But then a special gift arrived, a large box in which opera singer Antonello Tintinaglia of Italy emerged to entertain the guests. At nearly two meters tall and with a booming voice, he almost didn’t need a microphone to reach all the 200 guests. He sang many Italian songs and a few Christmas carols, bringing Christmas Eve to a close.