Kelan Gondrezick positions himself at the front of the aquarium, in full view of the audience, wearing a classic Santa suit and beard as bubbles rise above him. Children gaze up at the soggy spectacle or line up by a Santa’s helper to tell him what they want for Christmas.
Each weekend in December, the underwater Santa takes photos with guests and hears Christmas-wish lists from children outside the aquarium for 2 1/2-hour shifts at the Silverton.
Gondrezick, of southwest Las Vegas, is the star of the show.
Gondrezick, a professional commercial diver, took the role as the mall’s sole Santa as a second job. His first is owning Las Vegas-based Blue Locker Commercial Diving Services LLC.
He started the Santa job two weeks ago, describing it as “surreal.”
Santa always has a “helper,” dressed as an elf, who passes out candy canes as dozens of children line up to relay their wish lists to Santa. The helper chats with children and hands them a microphone so Santa can hear their wish lists while he’s underwater.
Children ask for bunnies, puppies, Xboxes and toys. Santa often responds, between deep breaths, with “I’ll talk to my elves and see what we can do,” or “I’ll put that on my list.”
With a baby girl of his own, Gondrezick said he appreciates witnessing the smiles on children’s faces and seeing families together during the holidays.
Gondrezick isn’t alone in the tank.
Logan Halverson has been a mermaid and Santa’s helper for five years.
As a former competitive synchronized swimmer, Halverson knew she wanted to pursue a career in the water.
“I am really at peace in the water,” she said. “I get to come to work and get ready and go into the water and engage with the guests and just zone out when I am there.”
Halverson said she had to learn how to communicate with the guests while underwater.
“Doing this job, you learn to pick up on people’s body language,” she said. “It is a really cool experience that I would not have if I didn’t do this job.”
If you go
What: Underwater Santa
When: Noon to 1:15 p.m. and 2-3:15 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through December 23
Where: Silverton, 3333 Blue Diamond Road
More information: silvertoncasino.com/entertain/underwater-santa