We already know Santa Claus can do magical things.
He hangs out at several malls at the same time.
He can speak every language in the world.
He flies around the world with what must be millions of gifts all in a single bag.
But then, just when you think he's done it all, Santa becomes a scuba diver and hunkers down with a bunch of mermaids in a Las Vegas casino.
"It's fun," says Santa, who goes by the code name "Jerry Cowley" when he's not in uniform. "I love dealing with people this time of year. Most people are cheerful."
"Cowley" claims he's the 57-year-old aquatic safety manager at the Silverton Casino. He's in charge, among other things, of the divers and the mermaids who inhabit the casino's 117,000-gallon aquarium every Thursday through Sunday.
A few years ago, the folks who run the place wanted a little Christmas spirit. Typically, the aquarium hums with mermaids on the weekends.
Pretty and all that, but not very Christmasy.
So they plopped a Christmas tree in the tank, which is filled with 4,000 tropical fish, sharks and stingrays.
That did not go so well.
"Problem was, the fish were very curious. They thought it was good to eat, so they started chewing the plastic needles on the tree," says "Cowley."
The next Christmas, everyone put their heads together. Was there something else Christmas-related they could put into the aquarium?
Well, someone piped up, why don't we put Santa in the tank?
Everyone looked at "Cowley" of course.
Though he's fit as a fiddle and does not, when he's using his code name out of uniform, have a beard, those problems are easily dealt with.
A suit and a beard, of course. But they tended to float, so the casino's wardrobe department sewed weights into the lining. Now, they sink.
Typically, the mermaids who use the tank all year long breath through air hoses strategically placed throughout the tank.
Santa just wears the scuba gear under his suit instead. Instant padding.
Kids love it.
They can pose for free pictures with Santa, though only through the aquarium's glass.
They can even talk to him through a microphone that Santa can hear under the water.
"It's been very good," says "Cowley." "You can see the kids. Their eyes just light up when Santa comes in."
When he is not Santa, "Cowley" has five children of his own. They're all grown; the youngest is 20.
He also has eight grandchildren, and they're all very young.
He said he has to be careful because he does not want the two lives to mix. The grandchildren cannot know his secret identity.
Although he is covered in padding and a scuba mask and the Santa beard, they might think they recognize his voice.
No one wants that to happen because no one wants to have to explain to the children that their granddad isn't real.
Contact reporter Richard Lake at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0307.