RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- Rio de Janeiro residents have gotten a first glimpse of around 40 bearded men charged with bringing holiday cheer to this seething tropical metropolis.
The Brazilian Santa School held a public graduation ceremony for this year's crop of shopping mall Santas, a motley crew of elderly men of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities.
Tuesday's ceremony took place aboard the commuter ferries that link Rio with its sister city, Niteroi.
The Santas defied the sweltering springtime weather in their fuzzy red-and-white suits and handed out gifts to children on board.
Eighty-two-year-old Ailton Fereira dos Santos shared words of wisdoms with the novices.
He told them to "Smile, bring joy to the children," and added: "The present is what you have, your words, your affection."