Dear Blue River Elementary,
My name is Dan Hollander, and I am a professional skater. I placed 3rd in the United States and 10th in the World. I turned pro and travel all over the world skating in ice shows. I was getting ready to leave my house in Michigan last weekend for my show in Dallas when the postman delivered a friend, FlatKaleigh (FlatK).
With FlatK tucked next to my trusty macbook pro, I headed off to the airport. By the time wechecked into the hotel, FlatK wanted to rest and watch TV at the Westinwhich is connected to the Galleria Mall. What FlatK didn’t realize was that every year, for the last 10 years between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I have performed as the skating Santa with fireworks shooting out of my skates as I backflip. The show happens to be inside the mall with this huge tree that has over 400 thousand LED lights on it!
We woke up early for a TV interview with the local Fox news. This was pretty exciting since this was going to be the first time I was ever interviewed as Santa! I spent a good 20 minutes with FlatK who made sure I was using the appropriate Santa voice. So from 6:00a.m. until 9:00a.m. we skated around and waited for our two television spots. The interview went really well thanks to my coaching by FlatK. Since I was there a day early, we had nothing to do except shop and walk around the area. I convinced FlatK that I really wanted to see a movie and we happily walked the fifteen minutes to the other mall that had a movie theater. Once there, I decided on Planet 51. Armed with a box of popcorn and water, we walked into the huge theater. Believe it or not, the movie theater isn’t really that busy on a Friday at 1pm. Hard to believe, I know! In fact, we had the ENTIRE theater to OURSELVES!!! How cool is that? The movie was pretty good and we spent the rest of day walking around the mall.
Saturday morning wasn’t as early as Friday, and we went down to the rink for rehearsals. At this time I make sure the guest skaters know where to go in the finale because there are fireworks that shoot from the tree. From there FlatK pushed me through a tough work out at the hotel gym:
20 minutes on the bike
After FlatK put me through my paces, it was time for the show. The Zamboni drivers said hello and got our dressing room assembled. They put curtains on metal pipes to make a small room, which they call “pipe and drape.”
Once in the locker room, FlatK helped to organize my Santa outfit and to make sure the fireworks that are installed on my skates were securely fastened. Meanwhile, the guest skaters were warming up on the ice before the big show started. It takes a lot of time to wire Santa to make sure the fireworks go off as planned. First there is a wire harness that goes from the bottom of my boots, up through my shoulder and down my left arm. At the end of it is a box with a switch that is strapped to my wrist. While skating, I turn the knob one click that sends an electrical charge to the “match” which sets off one of the four fireworks.
The music machine had some some issues, so FlatK, who is very handy with such things, volunteered to help out. A ton of people showed up with this weekend because of two reasons. The first reason is because Christmas was right around the corner and everyone was getting their last minute shopping done. The other reason is because the guest skaters are Olympic hopefuls Meryl Davis and Charlie White. The show went on without a hitch.
Right before I went out, FlatK gave me a pep talk and got me pumped up to perform my best for all the little kids. I jumped through the curtain as fireworks exploded from either side of me. FlatK hung back with my good friend Jessica who is in charge of running onto the ice with a fire extinguisher in case Santa catches on fire! (which of course is very unlikely since my outfit is treated with a flame retardant substance.)
(me back-flipping while fireworks are going off that seem to be bouncing off my head!)
Once the show was over, Meryl and Charlie was nice enough to take a picture with us. What most people don’t know is the Santa suit has a big fat suit underneath that is extremely hot! Man, I was spent! FlatK decided it was time to go back to the hotel where I could take a shower and pack up for my early morning flight. Once everything was in its place so the least amount of effort was required at 5a.m., we both decided it was time to work on this report.
After minimal work we told our story and uploaded it the website.
Good luck FlatK and safe travels!