For years we have been visiting Santa’s Magical Kingdom and wondering who the clever people behind it were. Well turns out it’s a gorgeous local family! Debbie Gasser, along with her husband Tony and their three kids, are from Gisborne in Melbourne’s outer North and together they bring the Christmas magic to Caulfield Racecourse every year!

Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself and your family.      

My husband Tony and I run our business Unique Attractions full time with our youngest son and I am step mum to the oldest two, who are adults now and also work in the industry. Fortunately we are able to work together on quite a few projects.

Your husband Tony is part of the family behind the amazing Silvers Circus. Tell us about your time in the circus together.    

Tony started performing with his parents from a very young age and has performed everything from flying trapeze, lion taming, clowning and numerous aerial acts. Tony and I performed together in our Wheel of Death act and Flying Trapeze as well.

As Silver’s Circus is also a family business, everyone is involved in all aspects of the business, you definitely have to be adaptable as you wear many hats. Behind the scenes, aside from being involved with assembling and dismantling the tents and equipment, I drove trucks, made our costumes as well as the domestic duties in taking care of my family.

Your youngest son is now 7th generation circus. How involved are the kids in your businesses?

Our youngest son is definitely kept very busy as he has just finished year 12, however he has been very hands on in the business as well. In between his studies and school commitments he is working on-site with the installations for events which could be anywhere in the country. On top of all of that he is very involved with the social media for the business.

How did Santa’s Magical Kingdom originally come about?

We thought that it would be a great opportunity to put a Christmas event together with our family and friends in the industry as we believed that we had the expertise, equipment and know-how between us to make a great event. Originally it was held in Burnley however from how well it was received, it was moved to its new home at Caulfield Racecourse which has allowed us the space to expand the event to the scale that it has become today.

How long does it take to bring the annual magic of SMK together each year? 

The administrative side of the business is run almost all year round with research and development into the upcoming production but to actual build Santa’s Magical Kingdom on site takes approximately four full weeks with a team of approximately 70 of Santa’s Little Helpers.

What amazing new fun can we expect at Santa’s Magical Kingdom this year?

There are exciting new acts in the Circus Spectacular with very talented young performers. New decorations have also been installed throughout the Kingdom as well as the inclusion of new rides and attractions.

What’s your favourite thing about what you do?

As Santa’s Magical Kingdom has become a Melbourne Christmas tradition, we have many families that come back every year so it is wonderful to be a part of their celebrations and see the children and families getting bigger every time. We put a lot of effort and focus on keeping the event and performances fresh for all of the families while making sure that we hold on to the Santa’s Magical Kingdom feeling that makes it so special.

What’s the best thing about being a mum?

I am fortunate to be in a situation where I have been able to spend a lot of time with my son as well as being able to work alongside him. I enjoy passing on family traditions with him and doing the things that I enjoyed to do with my family.  

What does the Gasser family Christmas look like usually?

We incorporate the family’s European heritage and start celebrating with a big family meal on Christmas Eve and open our presents. This is a wonderful time with my mum, my husband’s parents, siblings and their families where we enjoy a delicious Swiss/German dinner which my mother in-law prepares. On Christmas Day we celebrate the day with extended family and friends.

Where do you see yourself in 10 year’s time?

As our business and our life is intertwined, I can see myself continuing to be as involved as I am now and surrounded by my family. Although I would like to think that I won’t be working so hard, I know myself too well!

And finally, care to share with us a funny parenting story?

I am known to be a clean freak and my friends have a saying that “It is not clean unless it is Debbie clean”. I went to one of my good friend’s houses one day with my son who was 3 years old at the time and we took our shoes off at the door. My son saw a little bit of dirt on the floor and asked me if it was ok for him to put his shoes back on because the floor was too dirty. Thank goodness it was one of my very good friends who knows me very well because she just laughed and said “Yes, that is the mother’s child”. We still laugh about it today but I was so embarrassed at the time.

Catch Santa’s Magical Kingdom at Caulfield Racecourse until Dec 29.