Santa Claus is real, but he’s just one man who can’t be everywhere at once. That’s why Troy Barnett — aka DJ Barnett — has lent the jolly man a helping hand for over two decades.
Barnett first became one of Santa’s helpers back in 1998 in West Palm Beach, Fla. At the time, Barnett was trying to land a job as a DJ on a cruise ship, but nothing was available. As Christmas approached, however, a position as one of Santa’s helpers opened up and Barnett jumped at the opportunity. Although it wasn’t ideal, it was a foot in the door.
“It was very little money, but I wasn’t going to have to pay for rent and my food was taken care of because I was going to live on the ship. That was how I started being Santa, and it was the start of eight years of my life working on this cruise ship,” explained Barnett.
According to Barnett, the day after Thanksgiving in 1998 he started training for the Christmas Holiday show on the ship. He would mingle with guests in his Santa persona and worked two shows a day before being a DJ in the disco in the evenings.
“It was long hours, but it was a lot of fun, and I give a lot of credit to Santa for coming into my life and asking me to help him out and work on a cruise ship,” Barnett said.
After having his fun in Florida, Barnett eventually moved back to the west coast. It was 2012 and Mike Sebastian had officially hung up his Santa’s helpers hat. That’s when Barnett opted to bolster the holly jolly ranks, put on the red coat, and continue helping spread holiday cheer.
During the pandemic, he stepped his efforts up to the next level and included theatrical beards and changed out parts of his suit.
“I do Santa visits, photographs with families and house visits. Come December we’re just busy with Santa and the DJ business,” Barnett said.
Barnett is unable to help Santa out this year for the annual Tractor Parade due to DJ gigs on his schedule. Barnett reflected on the impact his assistance to Santa had on the community. Regardless of one’s belief status of Santa, the smiles the sight of his likeness brings youth are very real.
“Just seeing the kids’ faces. It’s like watching them believe, especially the adults. I always say, ‘If you don’t believe, you won’t receive.’ It’s just a little humor I like to add to it because it’s not just about Santa, it’s about the spirit of giving and sharing happiness and family. It’s amazing when you see kids and they just light up,” said Barnett.
“I really enjoy reading ‘The Night Before Christmas.’ During COVID, I was making videos for people all over the country. They’d message me and ask if I could make them a video and I would send videos to places like Michigan and Florida. I would do phone calls and face timing kids,” said Barnett.
One of his most memorable experiences in helping Santa bring joy to families was when he worked with Tecera Philbrook to bring Christmas cheer to children whose father had recently died.
“They didn’t even have internet, so Tecera helped them get that so they could have a Facetime with Santa. It was cool because I could sympathize with them losing their dad because I’d just lost my stepdad in 2019,” Barnett said. “I wanted to help these kids get through this hard time and have a good Christmas. I used their first names and they really believed Santa was talking to them.”
To learn more about this Santa helper, visit djbarnett.com and look under the “more” drop-down menu. Information is also available on the DJ Barnett Entertainment social accounts on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.