World Santa Congress brings July Christmas cheer to Copenhagen

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Chuckling "Ho ho ho" and waving to the public, dozens of Santas brought some Christmas cheer to the Copenhagen summer on Monday as they began their annual World Santa Claus Congress. Drawing Santas from around the world, the three-day event in the Danish capital hosts a range of activities including parades, a Santa Obstacle Course and shows at the Bakken amusement park. It also allows participants -- this year 125 Santas from 15 countries -- to discuss professional issues. "I think this year we need to talk about Santa having a few less cookies," Santa Douglas, who arrived from Washington, told Reuters. "The chimneys are a little bit smaller now and 15-20 cookies is a few too many. Maybe 12." Santa Paradis Yamamoto from Tokyo said the congress would also look at "which presents to give" this Christmas. The World Santa Claus Congress dates back from 1957 when its founder, Bakken entertainer Professor Tribini, decided to bring Santas together for some summer festive fun. On Monday, the Santas visited Copenhagen's Little Mermaid statue and paraded through the city center accompanied by elves and even one person dressed as a Christmas tree. Some sang traditional songs and posed for pictures with the public. "Santas come from all over the world to enjoy beautiful Copenhagen and to share and exchange information and ideas about how to make the world a better place to live for everyone," Santa Stan Miller from Alabama said. "That is what being Santa Claus is all about." (Reporting By Mikael Nilsson in Copenhagen; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian in London)

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