One mall Santa in Canada has been relieved from his holiday duties this year after local residents complained about some inappropriate photos he posted online.
Gary Haupt, a 69-year-old who works as the in-house Santa Claus at Penticton, B.C.’s Cherry Lane Shopping Centre, thought he would have a bit of fun with his seasonal role by taking some cheeky Santa photos.
He later posted the photos — rather unwisely — in a community Facebook page with nearly 20,000 members.
In one of the pictures, Haupt is shown jokingly drinking from a flask on the job (not at the mall in question, but at the nearby Shatford Centre Christmas Market), though the flask was apparently provided by a customer specifically for the photo and had the cap on the entire time.
In the other, Haupt, dressed in his Santa suit, hovers his hands over the chest of a smiling woman, who is an acquaintance of his wife’s. His wife took the photo, and the woman depicted told Global News the photo “was just out of great humour.”
Haupt, as Santa, posing with his wife’s nail technician. Photo by Gary Haupt.
The bad Santa admitted to Global News that he “[was] not bright” in his decision to pose for the pics, or to upload them to social media.
Apparently, he’s participated in similarly naughty photos at the request of customers in the past, too. Last year, he pretended to spank a group of young women for their Christmas photo — one we assume they didn’t send around to friends and family.
That incident landed him a warning from Cherry Lane.
This new crop of photos means he won’t get the chance to play Santa at the shopping centre at all this year, a job he was set to start this coming weekend. The mall let him go late last week after receiving a complaint. (Have they even seen the movie Bad Santa?)
Haupt told Global News he was just trying to have a good time and be funny, but that the whole ordeal has made him feel like he’s “really let somebody down.”
He also said that he’s hoping for a Christmas miracle that would give him a chance to take the job back, which he would do “in a heartbeat.”