The Times photo by Betsy Reason
Santa Claus listens to a Christmas list from Jada Trump, 5, a kindergartner at North Elementary, while her mom, Christina Taylor, snaps photos at the Santa House on the Square in downtown Noblesville.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason Santa Claus listens to a Christmas list from Jada Trump, 5, a kindergartner at North Elementary, while her mom, Christina Taylor, snaps photos at the Santa House on the Square in downtown Noblesville.
For Robert Shuck, playing Santa Claus has become second nature during Christmas. 
The 71-year-old white-bearded Westfield resident plays the jolly ol’ elf, and his wife, Judith, plays Mrs. Claus. 
“Most of the time we do it together,” said Shuck, who says he plays Santa, “just to work with the kids.”
His long white beard goes down to his chest. “I’ve always had a beard. I just decided to let it grow. It took me three months, and it was down here,” he said pointing to his beard.
He wears a believable red Santa suit and Santa hat and black Santa boots. It’s his second suit that he’s owned since playing Santa.
And he has perfected a jolly “ho, ho, ho,” although he doesn’t try to be boisterous in fear of frightening the more timid, younger visitors.
This holiday season is the first time that he has portrayed Santa at the Courthouse Square in downtown Noblesville. Shuck is among three Santas employed this season at the Santa House, this year for the first time managed by the Hamilton County Historical Society. Bob Becker and Loyd Smith also play Santas.
Folks can still share their Christmas wishes with Santa during the final Santa House hours, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. today, Christmas Eve, on the Courthouse Square.
Everybody who visits Santa wants their photo taken with the jolly ol’ elf. Little kids. Big Kids. Moms. Dads. Grandmas. Grandpas. Aunts. And uncles.
Santa’s visitors have also included soccer teams, football teams and swim teams, and even an engaged couple posing for photos with Santa.
But the most fun he has is conversing with his visitors, hearing their Christmas wishes, and answering their questions. Like “Where’s the reindeer?” “Where’s the sled?” And “Where do you sleep?”
Santa quickly answers: “At the North Pole.”
While it might seem that Santa has an easy job, listening to children’s wish lists, he really has a big job.
Not only does he have to make sure that his elves get all of the toys made in time for Christmas for good little boys and girls, deliver presents all over the world on Christmas Eve and have a positive jolly-ol’-elf attitude. But he also has to do his homework. That means being familiar with all of the popular Christmas toys, watching the latest kids’ shows and reading about the newest comic-book characters.
“I’ve been asked for all sorts of different presents,” said the Santa. “Pets, animals, and a couple of people asked me for new cars. And one guy asked to keep his stock portfolio performing at a high level.”
Santa said one man recalled the days of his youth, inquiring if it was “bad weather” that kept Santa from bringing him a pony when he was 6 years old.
Just about every visitor who sits on his knee or next to him on the bench has a Christmas wish to share with Santa.
On this particular day, MaryRebecca Koskie, 4, Noblesville, asked for a Barbie and an LOL (Lil Outrageous Littles) mini baby doll. Her brother, Roland Koskie, 6, asked for a drone and a Beyblade, which is like a spinning top (I’m told). Jada Trump, 5, Noblesville, asked for an LOL doll house.
“You just have to keep up, looking at all of the catalogs to see what all of the toys are,” Santa said. “So, when the kids talk about different things, you can talk about it, too.” He also familiarizes himself about kids shows, such as “PJ Masks.”
He has played Santa Claus for 10 years, this year starting his work on Nov. 17. He’s played Santa Claus for Westfield in Lights and also for Cookies with Santa at Carey Ridge, Monon Trail, Oak Trace and Washington Woods elementaries in Westfield, where he also likes to visit special-needs classes. He was also Santa in a Westfield park on the weekends for a while. Mrs. Claus and on Saturday, spent part of the afternoon with Santa at the Courthouse Square. She spent the remainder of the day playing Mrs. Claus for the Nickel Plate Express’ Reindeer Ride excursion based in Atlanta, Ind.
He decided to put on the red Santa suit, Santa hat and Santa boots about 10 years ago when the Downtown Westfield needed a Santa and Mrs. Claus. His wife is a fifth-generation Westfield resident.  He was born in Greensboro, N.C., then lived in Mays, Kennard, Westfield and Carmel, where his dad coached athletics, and then Evansville, where his dad was in the insurance business, before living 38 years in Alabama, where he graduated high school. He is a retired band director of 40 years and currently helps with Westfield High School band. He reunited with Mrs. Claus, his “first-grade sweetheart,” in 1999 and got married and moved back to Westfield.
He and Judith volunteer wherever they can help out during the Christmas season.
And they were definitely needed this season in Noblesville, where the Santa House on the Square almost didn’t happen.
The City, which has operated the Santa House for the past several years, announced in November that the Santa House would not be on the Courthouse Square this year, but instead have a Santa House that was ADA-compliant at Federal Hill Commons.
A public outcry to keep the Santa House on the Square was followed by the City discovering that the Santa House ownership was actually with the Hamilton County Historical Society.
So, the Santa House would stay on the Square after all, and the Historical Society would operate the Santa House and hire Santas this year. Hamilton County Commissioners decided that the county would store the Santa House, do any repairs and provide an ADA-compliant ramp.
Santa said while sometimes his appearance is only photos with Santa, he has the most fun interacting with the kids, or going through a crowd of kids.
As far as this year’s Santa House on the Square, filling a need for Santas, he said, “I was happy to come here to do this.”
-Contact Betsy Reason at Happy holidays!