Even the most credulous and gullible child, when perched upon the knee of a shopping centre Santa, will begin to sense that, maybe, they aren’t dealing with the real thing. There’s only so much an innocent and earnest belief in festive wonder can hold up before you have to give up and accept that Santa’s ‘beard’ is very evidently a wad of cotton wool attached to two ears that have grown beetroot red from the overly-tight rubber-bands holding the whole ensemble together. You had not expected Santa to smell this strongly of stale cigarettes and the inside of an old Volvo.
Aside from the majority of shopping centre Santas’ half-hearted and flaccid nods toward the obligatory costume casting doubts on their own veracity, one surefire way to ensure that any nearby children immediately lose faith in the person in front of them actually being Santa is if that Santa yells ‘Get the fuck out!’. This by my reckoning, is not a phrase associated with the traditional lexicon of Santa, and, for the sake of a greater array of interesting Christmas cards, more’s the pity.
It may come as no surprise to hear that, given the potent combination of this article’s headline and the above paragraph’s allusion to this scenario, this is exactly what happened to a group of children attending a Christmas event in the UK.
After a fire alarm was sounded in a Christmas Grotto in St. Ives, Cambridgeshire, the attendant Santa apparently leapt to his feet, and in the panic, screamed at the children to ‘Get the fuck out’. Now, I’m not saying that the man in question who was employed as Santa should’ve been trained in fire safety – after all, it is not strictly something you’d imagine to fall under Santa’s remit – however, this seems particularly low down on the list of ‘reasonable reactions to a fire-alarm’. It was also reported, by CNN that, upon hearing the fire alarm, the Santa in question ran out of his grotto and helped ‘immediately in the evacuation of the building’.
The fact that the Santa swore in front of so many children in attendance was roundly decried by parents who’d been present. As quoted by TheHill.com one of the parents present wrote on the event’s Facebook page to share their outrage that the Santa Claus “ripped his hat and beard off in front of 50 odd kids and started shouting and swearing at people to leave.” These sentiments seemed to be shared among the majority of those who’d been present, though, to be fair, prioritising the continued deception that an underpaid man dressed in an ill-fitting costume is actually Santa Claus, over your child’s actual safety during a fire, seems bizarre. My opinion has somewhat changed having briefly contemplated the situation following the above paragraph where I mildly berated the man dressed as Santa for his actions. On balance, I think it’s fair to drop the pretense when there is the potential that an entire grotto full of children may burn to the ground.
The organisers, following the negative reaction, were forced to post a statement to their website which read;
“[Festival Events St. Ives] wish to apologise for any offence or distress caused to parents and children by the attempts to ensure all visitors and staff had exited the building and were safe.”
One of the parents, when speaking to Cambridgeshire Live, said that they’d told their child that the man wasn’t actually Santa but rather ‘an imposter and will be going on the naughty list.” If attempting to save the lives of – and yes, that may include swearing under duress at – children constitutes being naughty then so help me god I do not want to be nice.