Once a year, a child can ask the big guy in the red suit for anything at all. It's a rare opportunity - those who are asking know it, and so does Santa and his local helpers.
The white-bearded men are listening, and they have shared some of their most memorable requests.
There are the touching ones:
Santa Claus is visited by John Howiler, 3, Tuesday at the Eastwood Mall. John was at the mall with his parents, Hope and John Howiler of Niles. To view or purchase this photo and other items, visit cu.tribtoday.com
"The one that really stuck with me was last year at the Youngstown Symphony's Brunch with Santa," said Richard Mau of Austintown, who has had his beard for 31 years.
He recalled a little girl about 6 years old, nicely dressed, with her parents waiting in the background.
"I wish you would find a job for my daddy," she told Santa.
Kids aren't the only ones with Christmas wishes
Santa Claus is not just for kids, it turns out. Adults also submit their bids.
"People say, 'Where's the car I asked for?'" said Richard Mau. "I tell them I left it in the dealership lot."
"Sometimes they ask for money," he added. "I tell them to look on the side of the sleigh. It says, 'This vehicle carries no cash.'"
Adults have asked for large items, such as appliances.
Santa Richard Buffone tells them, "You realize I gotta carry this, you know."
There are other reasons adults stop to see Kringle.
"Single guys gotta send a picture to Mom," said mall Santa Richard Anderson, "maybe to let them know they're OK."
Anderson, of West Middlesex, said he's also been visited by the Red Hat Society, as well as two female fans in their seventies who have had their picture taken together with Santa annually for many years.
Another lady asked for help for her mother, who was having trouble getting over the loss of another daughter.
And who's looking for love?
"Ladies come up and want a man, and the men will come up and want a car," Buffone said.
Anderson refuses to promise love delivered on a sleigh.
"I tell them to try eHarmony.com," he said.
"Is there anything else you'd like?" he asked her.
"No, that's all I want."
There are the tried and true ones:
"Except for the electronic things, you can go back over 12 years, and they ask for the same things," said Richard Buffone, who has been in the big chair at the mall for that long and also serves as Santa Claus for the Packard Band Christmas concert.
Mau and Buffone listed the same common requests - dolls and trains.
There are signs of the times:
"They want their dads home from Iraq, peace," Buffone said. "That's want Santa wants, too - peace in the world."
There are the quiet ones, staring in awe:
"You carry on a conversation with yourself with most of them," said Buffone, of Warren. He tells them he'll surprise them.
Ken Rader, also of Warren, said some kids don't want to get too close, and some of them cry.
"But there's some kids that just jump on your lap and run their jaws forever," he said. "I just love the expressions on their faces - that's what it's all about."
Then there are all the "doozies," as Rader calls them:
"I had a 2-year-old ask for a laptop computer one time," he said. "It just blew my mind."
Buffone had a child ask for Blitzen, the reindeer. "I've had kids ask to go with me on Christmas Eve," he said.
This year, Mau said he's hearing a lot of requests for S'mores makers.
Mau said a boy, about 8, recently asked for a compound bow so he could go hunting with his father. When Santa asked him what size and what pound pull, he was ready - about 35 pounds.
"He was looking to have a good relationship with his dad," Mau said.
Mau also witnesses milestones. He was playing Santa for a private party, and all the children were 4 and younger. When he first walked in, one of the children was screaming in fear, so he took off his hat, his coat and his bells, then sat on the floor and started playing with children's toys. The child calmed down.
Another little one, who had been crawling around the whole time, got up and walked 6 to 7 feet to get to Santa Claus, and Mau heard: "Look, she's walking!"
"Those were her first steps," he remembered.