It takes something special to be Santa

It's not easy being Santa Claus. Just ask Lloyd Chang.

It takes Chang nearly an hour – and two helpers – to put on the red and white suit, chunky black belt, wig and beard. There's also the powder that he must dab on to prevent the jolly old fella's white locks from matting to his skin.

But there's much more to the act than simply having the look.

Patience, a hearty "ho-ho-ho"' and a love for little ones are essential.

"Some kids pull on your beard, others poke your tummy. Some even pee on you. And when they do, you can't throw the child off your lap," said Chang, 52, a Cutler Bay newspaper deliveryman who has portrayed St. Nicholas at Santa's Enchanted Forest in West Miami-Dade. "You have to keep smiling."

Come the holiday season, it's pretty easy to spot a St. Nick wannabe. They're in malls, on television commercials and at busy intersections trying to lure shoppers.

For some, dressing up as the legend is a way to make extra cash. For others, it has a deeper meaning.

As a child in Massachusetts, Bob Howayeck watched his father in awe as he donned a Santa costume and visited children in their neighborhood, handing out gifts and sharing stories about the meaning of Christmas.

Howayeck, 57, of Fort Lauderdale followed in his late father's footsteps.

To read the complete column, visit The Miami Herald.