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January 05, 1994 - Image 3

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The Michigan Daily, 1994-01-05

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, January 5, 1994 - 3

Vacations from New York to L.A.

Santa Claus shares his holiday thoughts

L.A. Story: It's all too true

GRAND RAPIDS - Santa Claus
dressed casually as he lounged in his
home and discussed his life, his job
and children in an exclusive inter-
view with the Daily.
Even out of costume, Santa looks
the part. He is taller than expected,
probably because he is always sitting
down in malls across the country. His
white hair is shorter too, clipped over
the ears and at the top of the neck. But
his wide lap and enveloping arms are
familiar sights.
In his house piled high with Christ-
mas gifts for his children, grandchil-
dren and great-grandchildren, Santa
and his wife talked about being Santa
and the most important part of the job
- the children.
Certain Grand Rapids residents
know Santa Claus as Roger Gildner, a
soft-spoken grandfatherly man.
"Everybody believes in Santa
Claus," Gildner said. "I'll always be-
lieve in SantaClaus, theEasterBunny,
the Fourth of July, Valentine's Day."
Gildner passed the holiday season
at the Breton Village Mall on the
southeast side of Grand Rapids. Dur-
ing a time of strip malls and suburban
outlets, Breton Village is still anchored
by locally owned and operated stores.
Gildner has donned the red suit for

more years than he can remember; he
estimates about 35 holiday seasons.
He first revealed his identity as Santa
at events at the Grand Rapids Fire
Department, where he worked for
more than 30 years, and later at fam-
ily reunions.
The transformation from Roger
Gildner to the jolly North Pole resi-
dent includes applying white makeup
on his face and putting cherry-col-
ored makeup on his nose and cheeks.
He tops off the look with white eye-
brows and gloves and the familiar
"The best partof being SantaClaus
is seeing the joy and content on the
little kids' faces," Gildner said.
Santa brought special joy to one
child. "One little boy was autistic.
They told me later he hadn't made a
sound in several years. I touched his
arms. He let out a squeal and started
The jolly old elf has ritual sayings
when a child is sitting on his lap.
He asks the children their names
and what they would like. He always
asks, "What would you like?" and
answers, "I'll put this on my list."
Santa's eyes sparkle when he
speaks of the candid nature of chil-
dren. "I asked one little boy his name
and age. I asked him what he would
like," Santa said. "He asked, 'What

do you have?"'
He continued. "One little kid I
talked to this year, after I asked him a
question, said, 'But I just talked to
you an hour and a half ago.,,
Santa has made outstanding en-
trances when he held the chair of
honor at other Grand Rapids-area
malls. At Eastbrook Mall, Santa ap-
peared in a puff of smoke aided by
local magician P.J. Weber. At Wood-
land Mall, he came down from the
roof of the shopping center on a lad-
der supplied by the fire department.
Gildner's wife, Burnetta, refuses
to be called "Mrs. Claus," but she is
proud of the work of her husband of
53 years.
"I don't think everyone can be a
Santa," she said. "I think you really
have to like children. You have to be
honest. You really have to put a lot of
yourself into it. Ho, ho, ho isn't it.
You have to make them feel like
they're somebody special, because
they are."
Although she says one SantaClaus
in the family is enough, Mrs. Gildner
has her own wishes for the children
that sit upon her husband's lap.
"I just wish the kids would stay
kids. They have so much to live for.
And it's the young people who are
doing it to each other," she said refer-
ring to youth violence. "They need

jobs. They need two parents."
She lives this philosophy while
tending to her ever-growing brood.
Two new babies have joined the fam-
ily this year totaling five children, 21
grandchildren and 13 great-grandchil-
Gildner is not Santa Claus only in
December. He keeps up his rapport
with children when working in a toy
store, participating in activities in the
Reorganized Church of Latter Day
Saints and spending time with his
"You have to be Santa Claus all
year long," Gildner said.
How long will this Santa Claus
continue to light up the faces of chil-
dren and the hearts of adtilts? "As
long as the good Lord is willing."

LOS ANGELES - "Oh, wow,
you get to spend Christmas on the
beach," a friend of mine exclaimed
after I told her I was going home to
Los Angeles for the holidays. Yeah,
big whoop.
Believe the rumors that you al-
ways seem to hear about La-La Land.
It's every bit as pompous, dirty,
obnoxious and loud as people in the
Midwest perceive it to be.
Here is just a smattering of the
things that occurred over the holiday
break, to reconfirm my loathing for
the City of Angels:
Remember Daryl Gates? The
LAPD's ex-police chief has recently
released his cops-and-robbers video
game, "Police Quest 4," in time for
the holiday shopping season.
The violent, shoot-'em-up game
is somewhat ironic coming from the
man who preached against exploita-
tion of the law while he served as
police chief. Recently, he's been seen
shamelessly plugging his product on
local Los Angeles talk shows, as well
as on his own radio show.
First, he sits idly by and sips cock-
tails on the first night of the April
1992 riots and now he's some sort of
folk hero in Hollywood. How quickly
we all forget.
- Only in Los Angeles are the
details of celebrities' personal lives
so sought after. Take for example the
recent run-in between old lovers Jack-
son Browne and movie star Daryl
Hannah at a local department store.
Almost all of the local TV stations
carried something about the unex-
pected meeting between the two in
their nightly telecasts.
We all love gossip, but do we have
to make a living off it?
Michael Jackson is not only the
"King of Pop," he might as well be
crowned the "King of Los Angeles."
His plea of innocence over the
holidays to a nationwide audience
garnered the first 30 minutes of cov-
erage on every local TV newscast that
evening. Most local affiliates also cut
into regular broadcasting to bring the
announcement live.
Apparently, he now owns every
TV station in the area, as well as

Speaking of Kings, it now costs
nearly $90 a ticket to get half-way
decent seats to a Los Angeles Kings
hockey match at the Great Western
Forum. We're talking about seats
where you can see the player and
make out the puck on the ice.
Send a Los Angeles team to the
championship round of any sport, and
suddenly it becomes an exclusive
event solely for the likes of Jack
Nicholson and other movie industry
Thanks for forgetting the guys who
actually supported you when you
stunk - the fans.
The most recent disgusting trend
to come out of Los Angeles is penis
enlargement clinics. Just after the big
debate over breast enlargements was
dying down, leave it to money-hun-
gry doctors out of southern California
to come up with something new to
entice customers. These days, it is
close to impossible to open up the
pages of a local newspaper or maga-
zine without seeing no less than three
ads for places like these.
The ultimate, however, had to be
seeing a prominent billboard adver-
tising the procedure as a Christmas
present for "that special man in your
life" from one such clinic in Beverly
Hills. Coming to a town near you.
Am I being unfair to Los Angeles
when all is said and done? No, not
really. The city right now lacks cul-
ture and direction. Everything here
becomes a contest to "one-up" every-
one else. As a friend of mine here said
to me, "It's who you know and who
you're seen with here that counts."
He only proves how synthetic every-
thing here can appear.
Finally, upon arriving at LAX the
first night, an apparently homeless
man came up to me and offered to
give me some nude photos of a woman
he claimed was his girlfriend, only for
"a buck or a cigarette."
I told him I found his proposition
rather disgusting and tasteless, to
which he responded with a laugh as
he walked away, "Only in Los Ange-
les, eh buddy?"
Sure, man, whatever.
I couldn't have said it better my-

New Yawk, New Yawk - the city that never sleeps

New Year's Eve
party In Times
Square with Dick
Clark not the only
celebration in the
Big Apple.
NEW YORK - This city was
ablaze with all of its holiday glory
these past two weeks as tourists and
natives alike took in the wonders of-
fered, and as last-minute shopping
frenzies climaxed amid the brightly
lit and festively decorated stores, only
to be replaced by the frenzy of NYC's
legendary New Year's celebrations.
This holiday season, the Big Apple
illuminated its marquees and made
Broadway glow with theatrical de-
buts and a few old favorites to close
1993 with lights, song, dance, drama
and everything else that is not only
the theater, but New York itself.
Among the spectacular productions
playing on Broadway, a far cry from
South State Street, were "Joseph and
The Amazing Technicolor
Family jaunt
proves long,
estrange trip
holidays are a great time for students
and their families to bond. And what
better place to bond than in a car?
That must have been what my
parents were thinking when they
planned a20-hourjaunt from St. Clair,
Mich., to Clearwater, Fla.
Looking forward to seeing rela-
tives, exchanging gifts and relaxing
on the beach, we piled into the car,
turned up the holiday music and hit
the freeway, much like the Griswold
family in "National Lampoon's
Christmas Vacation."
After leaving Michigan, some
breathtaking sights began to appear
along Interstate 75-Cracker Barrel,
Texaco and Waffle House to name a
few. But if one happens to miss one of
these rural landscape gems, fear not,
as they will reappear at the next exit.
And the next.
What seemed like an eternity later,
thejauntended atourrelatives' house.
I felt less-than-well-rested from the
o two hours of sleep I got somewhere in
Georgia, unlike my sister, who fell
asleep before we reached Detroit.
Upon our arrival, our relatives'
eccentricities began to show through.
With the outside temperature in the
low 70s, they deemed it necessary to
light a fire in the living room fire-
I .

Dreamcoat" with Michael Damian,
"My Fair Lady," The Who's
"Tommy," "The Nutcracker," of
course, and more permanent fixtures
like the still-enthralling "Les
Miserables" and "The Phantom of the
The city's museums also put on
their holiday best, many hosting mag-
nificent exhibits from countries
around the globe. The Guggenheim
Museum in So-Ho housed a collec-
tion of 57 of Vassily Kandinsky's
works on paper and canvas that
spanned the years 1911-1941. The
"diminutive retrospective" included
many of the artist's most beautiful
works, among them Picnic and Un-
titled. The Museum of Modern Art's
Lichtenstein exhibit that had thou-
sands flocking to see the artist's car-
toon-like canvases was also one of
the big hits of the season.
Also making an appearance at New
York City's holiday cultural extrava-
ganza were the Dead Sea Scrolls,
which chose the New York Public
library as a venue on their world tour
until Jan. 8.
For most University students, the

highlight of the break was not the
museums, but the oh-so-wild 40th
annual Debutante Ball at the Plaza
hotel Dec. 29. The blond debutante
from Texas continued her state's tra-
dition of making the lowest bows,
accidentally hitting her head on the
Running a close second to that
lavish event was New Year's Eve.
Never at a loss of celebrations, New
York geared up for the insanity of
New Year's and braced itself for the
31st, when the world would watch the
ball drop. The thousands who came
out in the cold, clear, final night of'93
with their champagne and whatever
else in hand witnessed the event first-
hand and saw the Sony Video I
Jumbotron screen show live excerpts
from JanetJackson's New Year's Eve
concert at Madison Square Garden,
only eight blocks south of Times
That was far from the only cel-
ebration in the city, though. Among
the clubs which hosted many of the
college crowd's parties were Space,
which, for the bargain price of $45,
treated its patrons to being kicked out

at 1:15 a.m. because of a bar fight;
Webster Hall, which claimed to have
the city's largest balloon drop; USA
and Limelight. Capping off the fes-
tivities of the night for many of the
University's Long Islanders was the
adventure of fitting onto the 3:50 a.m.
Long Island Railroad train which was
packed more tightly than Angell Hall
during finals week. There were also
fireworks to welcome the new year at
the South Street Seaport and on Cen-
tral Park West.
Basking in the afterglow of New
Year's was New York City's new
mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, who was
sworn in shortly thereafter at City
Hall in downtown Manhattan. Taking
the reins from former Mayor David
Dinkins, Giuliani vowed to take quick
and decisive action in efforts to rem-
edy New York City's ills, while many
Democrats watched with fear and
As a wealth of culture, activity,
celebrations and as a hotbed of politi-
cal activity New York City once again
stood its ground and proved its worth
as the country's greatest and one of
the world's best cities.

Toronto offers excitement


TORONTO - Approximately
one-half million people crowded into
a central city square to celebrate the
coming of a new year with music,
dancing and wild and crazy antics.
Sound familiar?
Well, it's not New York, but it's
almost as insane.
On New Year's Eve-and during
most of the rest of the year-Toronto
is similar to major U.S. cities.
Although a trip to Toronto is an
experience one would never forget, it
is not because of the feeling of being
in a different country or unfamiliar
culture, but rather because the obvi-
ous wealth of the community makes
this city memorable.
Toronto distinguishes itself by its
high prestige, cleanliness and beauty.
On New Year's Eve, live enter-
tainment and a laser light show de-
lighted the people who crowded the
square across from the famous CN
Tower overlooking Lake Ontario.
Toronto visitors could see a vari-

ety of musicals, operas, and other
cultural entertainment, such as "The
Phantom of the Opera," "Miss Saigon"
and "Showboat." And the young
crowds got a kick out of the never-
ending nightlife on Yonge Street with
the bars, night clubs and various en-
tertaining pubs.
A night of seeing "The Phantom
of the Opera" and hitting the favored
nightclubs and bars was followed by
a day of ice skating in the center of the
city next to a huge Christmas tree.
Next came a beer at the Hard
Rock Cafe, by which I felt like I had
taken a trip to New York city, not
another country.
Many Toronto visitors enjoy the
pleasures of this thriving and enter-
taining metropolis, and comment on
the cleanliness and neatness of the
Darin Lile of Sterling Heights,
Mich., said, "With all the excitement
and thrill of the night life, if it was a
lot dirtier, smelled and I would have
been mugged, I would feel like I was
in New York."

Michigan football players Trezelle Jenkins (right) and Steve King celebrate their own Florida holiday at the beach.

found out how my cousin became
known for her "kamikaze" left-hand
turns into opposing traffic.
The next stop was the condo - a
futile attempt to (a) leave our rela-
tives, (b) get some sun and (c) main-
tain our sanity.
The name "Surf Side South Con-
dominiums" was somewhat mislead-
ing. A more appropriate name would
have been "Shady Pines Retirement
Village," since we were the only
people under 70 years old in the build-
ing. We affectionately referred to our
temporary home as "Alcatraz."
One very special key was required
to oat intn tha lnhhv o ยข t intn the

slamming our door.
"You're going to wake up the
whole building," she told me at 2p.m.
on a Friday afternoon, but quieted
down after I told her the door's closer
was broken, which it was.
By not getting a parking permit,
not putting our trash in plastic bags
and not wearing shoes in the lobby,
we managed to break nearly every
rule in the "Surf Side South Rules and
Regulations Book-Condensed Ver-
sion," as the manager was quick to
point out.
But try as they may have, she and
her husband didn't ruin our vacation.
Thev weren't even lne_ Tf 2nvthing'

But the Tampa Bay area did not
have a white Christmas, much to the
chagrin of the locals.
Although it did not bring snow,
Christmas day brought us and our
grandparents to our relatives' house
once again. This time it was to open
our presents (clothes) and to eat our
traditional Christmas breakfast -
Polish sausage, hard-boiled eggs and
cinnamon rolls.
The afternoon brought a less-than-
traditional Christmas dinner of shrimp
jambalaya and burnt refrigerator bis-
cuits. I think it was just to make sure
we got our daily dose of seafood.
The mwether eventlly warmernd

-- - --- - - - - --- -- -
The Office of
Academic Multicultural Initiatives
is now taking applications for
Student Program Hosts
for the King/Ch&vez/Parks
College Day Spring Visitation Program

Application deadline is
Friday, January 14, 1994

Student Program Hosts' responsiblities include
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