The early Santa Clauses played their roles without any training, and often without any consistency. Most, if not all, of their names have been lost to history. Not so with Charles W. Howard, born 1896. In the fourth grade, Howard first played Santa Claus for a school play. Over the years he kept playing Santa Claus while becoming an American actor and teacher. He became famous for portraying Santa Claus in department stores and parades, and for seventeen years was the featured Santa Claus in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Concerned about the lack of training, consistency and professionalism among those playing Santa, Howard, in 1937, established the first, and now the longest running, Santa Claus school in the world. When Howard died in 1966 the school was moved to Midland, Michigan, where it continues to teach new Santas every year. http://www.santaclausschool.com/about.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_W._Howard
Other Santa Claus schools include: the International University of Santa Claus (http://www.realsantas.com/iusc.htm), the Professional Santa Claus School, in Denver (http://www.amerevents.com/santa-claus-school/), the Saint Nicholas Institute, in Livonia, Michigan (http://www.stnicholasinstitute.org/), the Santa School, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada (http://www.santaschool.com/), the Santa Claus School, in Denver, Colorado (https://www.facebook.com/SantaClaus.School), and the Santa School, in England (http://www.santaschool.co.uk/santaschool.html).
Picture of Howard’s school in Midland, MI: http://www.santaclausschool.com/
Picture of Howard in his outfit: http://santaclausoath.webs.com/charleswhoward.htm