By TOM BAUER/Missoulian

By TOM BAUER/Missoulian

My daughter is on to the whole fake Santa thing. She sizes up the various Santas we see around town, in the mall or outside grocery stores, usually, and then turns to me with a knowing look and declares, “That isn’t the REAL Santa Claus.”

She believes they are Santa’s helpers, needed because the real Santa is too busy this time of year to do all the things Santas need to do. Today’s Missoulian story about Santa – AKA Charlie Jerke – explains just what those things are, and gives us a glimpse into why Santa’s helpers like Charlie Jerke can be every bit as magical as the “real” Santa.

– MM