Safe Santas?

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - "And it turns into a pirate ship, yeah, please, please, please." Those were the words from 4-year-old Taylor as she eagerly awaited telling Santa what she wanted for Christmas this year.

With thousands of children just like her entering Santa's workshop, smiling and snapping photos on his lap over the next several weeks, many parents say they don't really think about the man behind the red suit.

"I never even thought about it before," says mom Elizabeth Milam.

He's a sure sign of the Christmas season. The man with the long white beard and the big belly. Chances are Santa is coming to a mall near you, but when you take your kids to visit Santa, has it ever crossed your mind to think twice before handing your kids over to a complete stranger?

Santa isn't the only one making a list and checking it twice. Santa's "talent agents" are doing the once over making sure the Kris Kringle passes a complete background check every single year, which mall management says is a process Inlet Square Mall takes very seriously.

"You know anything can happen, but I think that we do such a good background check and we know our Santa Claus personally," says Suzanne Oden, General Manager of Inlet Square Mall.

This is the first year Coastal Grand Mall's Santa has been working under the alias of jolly St. Nick. Bass Pro Shop says they've been lucky to have the same one for the past three years. Both Santas have passed the test, not only with the kids, but with a clean background.

"You never know in this day and age, it's sad that it's gotten to that place, but it's also good to have peace of mind when you're hiring someone that they're going to represent your company well, represent themselves very well and represent Santa very well," says Brad Andrews, Operations Manager for Bass Pro Shop.

And for moms like Elizabeth Milam, background check means she can take a big sigh of relief.

"It does make it easier to know that it happens, because you are handing over your child over, even for that split second," says Milam.

Just since Bass Pro Shop opened up the Santa's Workshop photo area on November 6th,  they've snapped over 1,100 photos.

That really puts into perspective how many children come into contact with Santa and this is just one out of thousands in this job title nationwide.

Copyright 2010 WMBF News. All rights reserved.