Santa Claus has taken up jogging, is exactly as tall as President Carter, drives a rocket-powered sleigh and does not plan to retire. These findings come from eyewitness accounts of six kindergarteners.
Through surreptitious sightings and exclusive interviews with the elusive Mr. Claus, the 5-year-olds have gleaned a variety of little-known facts about Santa's appearance, habits and life style.
For those who missed Santa's grand entrance last night, here is what the man and his entourage are really like. (The facts were revealed in private interviews, granted by the children at their school, Bancroft Elementary in the District).
Natasha Powell: "It was pretty late, about 9 o'clock, last Christmas and everybody was asleep. I heard someone coming down the chimney. It sounded like a toy going beep-beep-beep, and I knew it was Santa Claus.
"I came down the stairs and when Santa turned around I hid under a chair so he wouldn't see me. I opened one eye to watch him. I only opened one eye because I didn't want him to see both of my eyes.
"He put toys under the Christmas tree. Then he looked around and said 'Ho-Ho-Ho, Merry Christmas' and whooshed back up the chimney. He is very fat so he had to put his stomach in to fit in the chimney.
"I sneaked back upstairs and peaked out the window. I saw Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer. He kept jumping and jumping till all of a sudden he flew up in the air. Rudolph is the only one who can fly. He's very strong and he pulls the others.
"Mrs. Santa Claus was waiting in the sleigh. She was old, with gray hair and a big grandmother dress on. She saw me peeking out the window and told Santa Claus, and flew away.
"I got back into bed, pretending I was asleep and laughing a little."
Oliver Seldman: "One time I came down the stairs and saw half of Santa Claus' feet coming down the chimney. He was too fat to fit, so he jumped back up the chimney and came in through the door.
"I hid on the stairs. He sang a song quietly to himself. I couldn't hear the words, but I could see him opening his mouth. He turned on the TV and stayed for a few minutes to watch a Frosty the Snowman show while he ate the milk and cookies I left for him.
"I went up and asked him how old he was and he said 'pretty old -- 25.' He said he won't retire because what else can Santa Claus do, except be Santa Claus? If he dies then our mothers and fathers would be Santas.
"He stayed about three hours, but I went back to sleep after about two hours."
Darrell Matthew Bradshaw: "My mom was sitting beside the chimney to get warm and was reading and watching a movie on TV when Santa came down the chimney. He is so fat that he pushed my mom out of her rocking chair and the noise woke me up.
"Santa is about as tall as the president, but he doesn't look anything like the president. He is 10 feet fat. It was hard to tell his age. He could be 10 years old, or he might be 30.
"I talked to him. He told me that his sled is parked beside his house and he ties it to the North Pole. At the back of his sled there's a rocket with fire, and the reindeers point which way it goes.
"I played hide-and-seek with Santa. He hid in the bathroom, but I found him. Just when I looked in he said Ho-Ho-Ho. Santa likes vegetables. He eats a lot of them, and that's why he gets fat and that's why he's Santa Claus.
"He might get $10 or he might get $100 for each day he works. He starts early in the morning and goes all the way to the night. Mrs. Santa Claus cooks him vegetables because he's real hungry when he gets home."
Rachel Reinhard: "I've always wanted to see Santa Claus, but I get too tired and I fall asleep right before he comes. I have seen one of his helpers, or maybe it was one of his elves, dressed up as him. I could tell because I saw his orange shirt, and his beard kept slipping off.
"Santa is in his 50s. He made his name up and the job started with him. I think it's fun for him. He'll stop when he dies and then there would be a new Santa.
"I think milk and cookies are his favorite food because we leave him milk and cookies on the mantel or on a cushion and he writes us a thank-you note. I think he has very good ears because when I tell my mother all the things I want he hears me.
"Maybe during the rest of the year he rests in bed or does a lot of exercises to build up his muscles to carry toys -- because, you know, it's hard work. I think he's perfect and never makes any mistakes.
"There are different Santa Clauses all around the world. There's St. Nick and Father Christmas. Maybe they're all brothers.
"I don't think Santa and Jesus have ever met, but Santa likes to celebrate Jesus' birthday by giving people presents."
Jin Lee: "I want to be asleep when Santa comes because he brings presents to good children. But I know what he looks like because I saw him on TV.
"He's a real big man and very fat. My chimney is skinny, but that's no trouble because Santa is magic so he can do anything. Mrs. Santa Claus was on TV, too, and she looks like his mother. When he is out bringing toys to children she takes a walk.
"Santa is young -- about 10 years old. He needs to be young and strong to carry many toys. During the rest of the year he skis so he can be strong to carry toys. He reads all the letters himself. He doesn't have a secretary." c
Kofi Ross: "I didn't want to take advantage of Santa Claus, so I went to sleep on Christmas eve. But when Santa Claus came to my house he went to my room and tickled me.
"My grandmother was in the same room, but she didn't wake up. Santa gave me three presents and I put them under my bed. He said Ho-Ho-Ho and almost woke up my grandmother.
"I made up a bed downstairs for him by the door and Santa Claus took a nap. He took the reindeer off the sled and they came inside and ran all over the house.
"I fixed some food and gave the reindeer fried chicken, rice, potato salad and cupcakes. Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer ate a whole chicken up.
"Santa has a big belly, but he's strong. He has to be strong to go up and down chimneys, so he jogs. My grandmother made him a red suit to jog in.
"He's a real rich man. He has a thousand dollars to buy all the toys with.
During the rest of the year he jogs or sits around and rests at the North Pole or watches games on TV.
"Mrs. Claus looks like Santa Claus, but she doesn't have a beard and she wears a red dress and high-heeled boots. She's very pretty.
"Santa Claus will never stop being Santa Claus. How would children have toys to play with if it wasn't for him?"