In 1995, Frank Pascuzzi’s sister-in-law asked if he would dress up as Santa Claus for several hours at her Christmas party.

“She knew I was a Christmas fanatic who always wanted to play Santa,” he said. “I didn’t look like Santa back then, but I was 6 feet tall, around 250 pounds and had a deep laugh. I sprayed my black hair with white paint and rented the suit.”

The experience, he added, was both enjoyable and enlightening. “I didn’t realize how wonderful it would make me feel or that I had something special to offer. Suddenly Christmas meant something again. As an adult you lose that magic. That night it came back.”

Four years later, he took his son to Macy’s to see Saint Nick. He had put on about 150 pounds by then and, embracing the holiday spirit, said he wore a Santa hat and sprayed his beard white for the occasion. While waiting in line, he was approached by a floor manager who asked if he would be interested in a job.

playing Santa year-round at both private parties and corporate events.

Suits were custom made. Fake beards and wigs were replaced with his real hair, colored white. In 2012, Mr. Pascuzzi, 63, who lives with his wife, Betty Pascuzzi, in Copiague, N.Y., legally changed his name to Santa Claus. (Ms. Pascuzzi, he said, is the only person who still calls him Frank.)

In 2015, he became an ordained minister through the Universal Life Church so that

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