By Crystal Dey
Ever wonder how Santa can afford all those toys? He’s married to a banker! When Mrs. and Mr. Claus, also known as Donna and Howard Ogaard, aren’t busy at the North Pole, they are incognito right here in Alexandria.
Donna keeps the finances in order as a personal banking officer at Bell State Bank and Trust and dons a culinary hat catering for Depot Express. She moved to the birthplace of America from Minot, North Dakota in 1988.
What do you mean you’re Mrs. Santa every day?
When you are married to Santa you automatically fill the role and [Howard] looks like Santa every day! He has his own long white hair and beard. He has so many children ask if he is Santa that he had business cards made up with his photo and a message that says: “Santa’s watching you! Be Good, Be Kind, Be Happy, Be Respectful.”
Fun fact: Howard’s long white beard drew the attention of the owners of John O’s Dinner Theatre in Brooton. After his first gig as Santa there, he started making appearances locally and at West Acres mall in Fargo. When kids started asking about Mrs. Claus, Donna took on the role.
Do you think children today experience the same magic of Christmas as past generations?
Definitely. Seeing the sparkle in children’s eyes and the look on their faces when they see Santa is magical. They have all kinds of requests from toys to world peace to asking for their mom or dad to find a job to put food on the table.
What holiday traditions have your family preserved?
My favorite is celebrating the 12 days of Christmas with my husband and son. During the 12 days we purchase small items for each other, with a hand written note or poem attached to the gift. I can still remember my first gift 20 years ago: a note on my pillow that said, “Roses are red my dear, violets are blue, here is some ruby red lipstick just for you!”
What are your passions, hobbies or interests?
I am passionate about good customer service and greeting everyone I see…on and off the job. My family often makes fun of our “quick errands” because they are never quick! I end up visiting everyone I know. I enjoy when my entire family gets together and we sit around and visit and tell stories. Watching the next generation growing up warms my heart. I enjoy spending time with my son, Daniel. Hearing my grandchildren call me “Grandma” is music to my ears.
What’s great about living in Douglas County?
Alexandria is large enough to have a good selection for shopping, restaurants and medical needs, but small enough that you know your neighbors. I’ve gotten to know many people over the past 24 years and I love meeting new people.
What can Generation Z learn from your generation?
When I think about how my life has changed compared to when I grew up, it actually scares me to think what will come for Generation Z. Today’s technology is great; however, it is taking away from human contact. Stay away from all the texting and pick up the phone to say hello or walk in the other room to visit with your family.