by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
I may be the last one to know about this group: the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas. They’re big time. Check out this Wall Street Journal story (subscription required) about the ill-fated idea from the feds to spend $250 million on a COVID vaccine ad campaign. The idea was to have Santas talk about the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine in exchange for getting the vaccine early.
The Department of Health and Human Services said Friday the Santa plan would be scrapped. The deal was the brainchild of the official, Michael Caputo, an HHS assistant secretary, who took a 60-day medical leave last month. The rest of the campaign now is under an HHS review.
The Santa “collaboration will not be happening,” and HHS Secretary Alex Azar had no knowledge of Mr. Caputo’s outreach discussions, an HHS spokesman said. Mr. Caputo didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Ric Erwin, chairman of the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas, called the news “extremely disappointing,” adding: “This was our greatest hope for Christmas 2020, and now it looks like it won’t happen.”
The decision comes as the Covid-19 spread continues to accelerate in most states, and the vaccines are unlikely to be broadly available to the public before the holiday season.
So what’s a real bearded Santa to do instead? Innovate, of course. (emphasis is mine)
Mr. Erwin—whose Facebook page includes posts critical of President Trump and his handling of the pandemic—said his members are discussing ways to do their work with virtual visits, plexiglass and photo opportunities with a Santa trapped in a Covid-safe snow globe.
I think I want one.