Meet the CPA Santa

Written on Dec 19, 2019

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager

When Bob Pohto, CPA, puts on his Santa Claus suit, he’s determined to bring joy not just to the children he talks to but to anyone else he meets.

“I guess I love seeing people smile,” Pohto said. “There's a magic to Santa Claus when you're dealing with little kids or even dealing with adults. Adults obviously know you're not Santa Claus. But I think that it brings back memories from when they were kids.”

Pohto, a senior audit manager at Eaton Corporation, first stepped in to the red suit about thirty years ago for his daughter’s preschool, something he said all the fathers took turns doing. From there, over the years he started being randomly volunteered through his kids or wife during the holiday season to dress up as Santa.

But his Santa career took off like a sleigh ride about fifteen years ago when he sat in as the Santa Claus for the Medina Candle Light Walk. After that, he was asked regularly to appear at parties and charity functions and bought his own suit.

“I’ve always been a comic so putting on a costume was no big deal,” he said.

Pohto is never paid for his Santa appearances, and when people hand him tips or money, he saves it up and donates it at the end of the year. Two of his preferred charities are the Community Foundation Millennium Fund for Children and the Trisomy 18 Foundation.

He estimates he goes to about twenty events over the holidays, everything from businesses raising money for charity to non-profit auctions. His wife has joined him over the years as Mrs. Claus and he even attended a two-day Santa Claus school to learn the ropes. Occasionally he’ll have to turn people down when he’s already booked.

And because Santa wouldn’t be Santa without handing out presents, he’s always prepared with jingle bells, candy canes, crayons, coloring books, stuffed animals, stickers, craft kits and more to pass out.

“If I'm in a restaurant, sometimes I’ll see kids giggling and pointing at me and then a waitress will come over,” Pohto said. “And I know those kids over there think I’m Santa Claus and I’ll say they can come over and talk to me.”

Pohto said he and wife, Beverly, provide the children a chance to visit with Santa and Mrs. Clausw and take pictures. Since he’s not getting paid, he doesn’t have to worry about appeasing a photographer and rushing through the children.

“I can take time to talk to the kids because that's what they're there for,” he said.

In 2012 he was recognized by Eaton for his charity work with the Stover Award for Volunteerism, which included a $2,500 check donated in his name to the Akron Community Foundation Millennium Fund for Children.

Unfortunately, not all Santa visits are light-hearted, as sometimes Pohto is asked to visit families who are dealing with serious illness or having a hard time financially.

“If you can cheer them up for one day then you’ve done your part,” he said.

Although Pohto jokes about his part-time gig as Santa Claus, he takes spreading joy and giving back to charity seriously.

“It's a way of giving back,” he said. “It's just another way to show you don't have to be rich, you just have to have the desire to give back to your community and to make it a better place.”

PHOTO: Santa and Mrs. Claus, known outside of the Christmas season by their aliases, “Bob Pohto, CPA” and his wife, “Beverly,” enjoy taking pictures with children and adults alike.

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