By Janelle Davis
Christmas is a special time for children. They enjoy decorating the tree, visiting Santa Claus, and reading their favorite Christmas stories.
Many are all familiar with stories like “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and “A Chirstmas Carol” to name a few.
But for some, among those classic titles is a book called “Santa’s First Helper.”
It is was written by Gerald M. Hoppe in 1987.
“Santa’s First Helper,” tells the tale of how Santa’s Head Elf WeeOne, wishes to possess Santa’s magical powers and the silly lengths he goes to obtain them.
It also explains to all of the little ones who wonder who all of the Santa Clauses they see in malls are, who those stand ins are and who the real Santa Claus is.
Hoppe dedicated the book to his son, Marc, who became severely disabled and passed away in 1990.
He and his wife often read “Santa’s First Helper” to Marc as they worked on a communication system.
Hoppe himself spent some time as “Santa.”
Years ago, he was one of Santa’s helpers at Shoppingtown, Fairmount Fair, and the Penn Can Malls, where children would come to share their Christmas wishes.
When they visited him, he would tell them short stories about Santa and his head elf. These stories inspired Hoppe to write his book.
John Hoppe, of Liverpool Gerald Hoppe’s brother, said that “Santa’s First Helper” received a lot of local news coverage.
It was featured in the Syracuse Post Standard.
The book was also covered in the local news media, including NewsChannel 9.
Mike Price came to Hoppe’s house to interview him and to do a feature.
Once the book hit local department stores, like Chappels, it started flying off the shelves during Christmas. About 4,000 books were sold locally.
This Christmas season, readers can look forward to a sequel to this Christmas tale, “Santa’s Magical Masks” written by Gerald M. Hoppe and Family.
“We always thought that it would be nice to write a sequel to the book, but everyone got busy with their lives and we couldn’t come up with a great idea, until COVID,” John said.
John came up with the story of “Santa’s Magical Masks” during the pandemic when everyone was wearing masks.
Santa and WeeOne return to overcome the major threats a new Christmas-In-July cold posed on their plans for this upcoming Christmas.
The book is illustrated by Lindsay Smiles, a graduate of the Newhouse School at Syracuse University.
The illustrations were created during her final semester as part of her Capstone Project.
“The connection to the first book is that it features the same characters and it features the similar event of WeeOne cutting Santa’s whiskers and wearing his beard,” John said.
The book is heart-warmingly dedicated to all children, parents, caregivers, teachers, healthcare workers, and first responders. It encourages that together, we can all do our part to keep each other safe and healthy.
Gerald Hoppe and family are committed to donating 15% of royalties to St. Jude’s Children’s Research.
“Santa’s Magical Masks” is now available for purchase on Amazon.com for $12.99.
You also have the option to contact John Hoppe for an author copy for the same price as on Amazon, excluding the tax and shipping fee. You can reach John at [email protected].