Santa needs a tummy tuck for Christmas Ever-larger suits needed from tailor


WALNUT CREEK, Calif. -- Maybe there's been too much milk and cookies. But there's no denying the fact -- Santa's getting fatter.

His tailor says so.

Without alterations, Santa can't get his bowl full of jelly into his traditional Christmas suit, even minus the pillows, according to Jenny Zink.

For 27 years, Zink has been turning out Santa suits at the Santa school operated by Western Staff Services, a Walnut Creek, Calif., temporary employment company that provides more than 3,000 St. Nicks annually in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

The original 1948 pattern, which Western keeps in a safe, has expanded, inch by inch. Beginning in the 1970s, Zink said, seamstresses started letting out the waist and lengthening the jacket.

Santa steadily put on weight and even got taller in the 1980s.

"And here in the '90s we've had one more sizing," said Zink. "The suits have always been big. But it's a question of how big. Extra large isn't always big enough and now we're getting calls for extra, extra large." The sizing has changed, "but it's still the same traditional suit," Zink said.

She wouldn't dream of putting Santa on a fat-free diet to fit into his clothes. After all, Santa is not alone. The National Center for Health Statistics says the number of Americans who are overweight has been growing since the 1960s.

"We like him well-rounded and cuddly," said Zink who specializes in training Santas with proper procedures and answers before letting them talk to children.

According to Elaina Medina, a Western spokeswoman, a Santa suit weighs 6 1/2 pounds and costs nearly $400.

"But they last a couple of years, depending on how many little lap accidents there are," Medina said.

Pub Date: 11/29/96

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