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Haughton residents help amp up seasonal tourism efforts

Even though Christmas is less than 100 days away, itç—´ a year-round season for Haughton residents Bob and Beth Collins.

Just one look at the Collins and itç—´ easy to see why the red suits, white hair and jolly personalities. Bob and Beth Collins are better known as Santa Bob and Mrs. Beth Claus, Bossierç—´ own Professional Magical Couple.

It all started about 15 years ago when Bob put on his first Santa suit to surprise the customers at Bethç—´ local day spa. At that time, he was working at the Bass Pro Shop and Santaç—´ Wonderland was just getting started.

However, it wasn稚 long before a manager told him he should consider taking on the role. So, he grew out his beard and attended an actual Santa school in Houston, TX.

Today, Santa Bob is the only Real Bearded Santa in the entire state of Louisiana. In order to hold that title, Santa Bob said he has a strict standard to uphold.

摘verything we do when we池e in our red suits is about smiling and making people happy, whether we池e walking through the grocery store or eating at a restaurant, he said. 的知 just myself. I知 like this with or without the red suit.?/p>

What sets Santa Bob and Mrs. Beth Claus apart from others is that they are a real life married couple working together in this business. Mrs. Beth Claus is quick to tell you that sheç—´ the one carrying the infamous Naughty or Nice List though.

的 am his main supporter, she said. 展e are soul mates and that痴 what makes us a professional magical couple.?/p>

Beginning in early November through the Christmas holiday, Santa Bob and Mrs. Beth Claus will be greeting guests (those young in age and those still young at heart) at Santaç—´ Wonderland at the Bass Pro Shop. Santa Bob said the Bossier City store takes more photos than any other store in the company during that short time.

典here are people that we see come back every year and there are some that come back every day, he said. 典hey致e got arts, crafts, race cars and all kinds of neat things. Kids can come spend hours there very easily.?/p>

Just a few steps away from the activity tables sit Santa Bob in his large chair, eagerly waiting for children to stop by, whisper their Christmas wishes in his ear and snap a quick (and free) photo.

哲o other store does this kind of Santa event, Santa Bob said. 釘ass Pro has a unique, enjoyable experience that you won稚 find anywhere else.?/p>

Until the workshop is officially open, Bob and Beth are serving as the official Christmas ambassadors for the region, promoting the Holiday Trail of Lights with the Shreveport-Bossier Convention amp; Tourist Bureau.

And who better to kick off the holiday season than the man himself. Santa Bob has a new suit this year, made by Mrs. Beth Claus herself, just in time to kick-off their favorite time of year.

The two have partnered with the SBCTB to create six short promotional videos that highlight well-known area attractions. The videos will be used to inform people why they should come to Bossier-Shreveport as a holiday destination.

The Collins said it is their mission to enhance the spirit of Christmas and bring joy to the area as a Professional Santa couple by fostering the spirit of throughout the year.

But they see their job as more than just putting on red suits and a smile. Santa Bob and Mrs. Beth Claus said itç—´ about believing, keeping a twinkle in your eye and the spirit of giving alive all year long.

çš„tç—´ enjoyable and very rewarding, she said. ?/p>

Santa Bob and Mrs. Beth Claus will be performing Santa services, such as home visits, children events, parades, parties, photo shoots, promotional events and hospital visits, in North Louisiana now through the end of the year. For more information or to see where Santa Bob and Mrs. Beth Claus will be this holiday season, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/santabobc.

The Shreveport-Bossier Convention amp; Tourist Bureau ill be releasing a Holly Jolly Handbook next month that will contain information on anything and everything to do this holiday season in the Ark-La-Tex. The holiday guide can be picked up at the visitorç—´ center in Shreveport and Bossier in late October.

For more information on the various activities and events planned along this yearç—´ Holiday Trail of Lights, visit www.holidaytrailoflights.com