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Believe it or not, Kris Kringle and his wife live just down the road from Perham. The beloved pair has lived a relatively quiet life in Ottertail for the last eight years. When not making and delivering toys to kids at Christmas, the pair (who are also known by their local aliases, Mike and Diane Windey) keep busy as active members of the local community. Submitted photo

Happy Ho-Ho-Holidays!

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It’s been a long week for Ottertail’s jolliest resident, Kris Kringle.

Just days before The Big Night, toys still needed making, snow needed shoveling, presents needed wrapping and reindeer needed brushing.

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That’s right, reindeer. In Ottertail.

It’s a little known fact that Kringle, also known as Santa Claus, has lived in Ottertail for eight years.

“It’s because it’s so cold,” Kringle said with a happy “Ho Ho Ho!” adding, “I love the cold, and the snow!”

Kringle can sometimes be spotted around town, getting his exercise at the Perham Area Community Center. He also serves on the Ottertail City Council under his local alias, Mike Windey.

Since the Perham Focus was very good this year, Kringle agreed to answer our questions.

You say you’re Santa, but a lot of people say that. How does that work?

You might see three different Santas, but they’re all working together to get information to the main Santa at the North Pole. There are millions of children to talk to, so there are many Santas out there, of all ethnicities. Santa is many cultures and individuals, but always has a smile. He tries really hard to do the best job he can. 

So … are you the main Santa?

I can’t tell you that! It’s a secret. 

What do you do when you aren’t getting ready for Christmas?

I go on vacation, like other people. There’s always a time to go someplace else and visit. Up here, I just love being in the North Country because it’s so beautiful and there are so many things to see. 

Do you need to go on a diet after eating so many cookies?

I eat some of the cookies, but I also share some with the reindeer. They need a snack, too, while flying. But exercise is always good and I try to eat the right food, so it’s not all sweets all the time. 

What do the elves look like, and what do they do all year?

They’re like everybody, like normal people. Maybe there’s one on the street, making sure you listen to Mom and Dad. They’re not a character or animal, they’re really people.

How many reindeer do you have?

Eight are pulling (the sleigh) but then there are some others who are younger and aren’t on the team yet. Reindeer do age, like everyone else. Sometimes they say ‘I don’t know if I can do a whole trip this year.’ That’s when you know it’s time for them to retire and help train the younger ones. 

How do you deliver presents if a house doesn’t have a chimney?

See, there are little tricks … and I can’t tell how I do that. This time of year, I have some magic and move very fast, but I’m tired after.

How do you avoid airplanes when you’re flying?

NORAD (the official Santa tracker) keeps the planes away from me. They track me and you can see where I am.

This might not be a fun question, but, how do you feel when someone says you aren’t real?

Some part of me feels a little sad. Someplace along the way, something happened. When someone says that, I ask ‘Why not?’ The whole myth and the whole discussion about Santa is something where you just have to believe. If you believe, no matter how old you are, you’ll have a smile on your face at Christmas. 

This has been great! Is there anything else you would like to say, Mr. Kringle?

Of course! Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to one and all!

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