Forty contestants, men and women from as far away as Russia, faced off in the race in the northern town of Celle. The jolliest Santa of them all – according to the jury – was 40-year-old Reiner Kienast who managed to bring smiles to many faces.
Aside from his mastery of Christmas carols, Kienast, a native of Trier, proved his talent in Christmas tree decorating. He also eyeballed lengths of ribbon which he had to cut to specified lengths – a crucial part of every holiday season as any stressed gift giver knows.
Some 10,000 holiday-mad spectators, many of them children, crowded into the venue, organizers said. The reindeer rodeo was particularly challenging, in which the Santas, almost all clad in the requisite beard and red suit, had to stay atop a bucking mechanical reindeer as long as possible.
That competition was won by Briton Ross Antony, who collapsed laughing onto the ground after 27 seconds. Antony was the only one wearing a blue suit for the competition – and he carried off the crown in the inofficial international contest.