Helpers' wedding opens Santa Congress

July 21, 2009 4:57:06 AM PDT
While much of the annual Santa Claus World Congress is a joke, two of Santa's little helpers were completely serious when they exchanged vows in a civil ceremony Monday.

The elf-eared Rune Hamrath Hansen kissed the bride, Sine Andersen, at a Christmas-themed wedding that opened the annual convention in an amusement park outside Copenhagen.

Hansen, 28, proposed to 21-year-old Andersen during last year's edition of the summertime Christmas celebration, which has brought together Santas from around the world since 1957.

"They are so beautiful," said Paradise Yamamoto, a Santa from Tokyo. "Merry Christmas," he bellowed, as the couple was showered with rice and heart-shaped confetti during a horse-drawn carriage ride around the Dyrehavsbakken park.

The ceremony, conducted by a local deputy mayor, momentarily took the focus off the 150 or so Kris Kringles who are meeting and entertaining here for three days.

Apart from debating Christmas-related issues such as the proper size of chimneys and weight regulations for Santas, the round-bellied delegates will go for a swim and parade through Copenhagen on vintage fire trucks.

A bicycle ride on Tuesday will show that Santas care about their health as well as climate change, organizers said.

Some Santas said they felt they had an especially important role to play this year, because of concerns about global warming and the economic crisis.

"The role of Santa is to tell people that there's always hope even if the skies are threatening," said Douglas Gowin, a St. Nick from Washington, D.C.

Ron Horniblew, of Luton, Britain, agreed. "If you can make someone smile, you have done it," he said. "We need it these days."