Mall fires Santa
Jolly Ol' Elf says he was axed by mall for giving away 3 cents candy canes
By JENNY YUEN, QMI Agency
The Toronto Sun
It's the mall that stole Christmas.
David Hutchison, who played Santa at Parkway Mall on Ellesmere Rd., says he was told Wednesday by mall officials that he was canned for giving out candy canes to shoppers who didn't pay to take a photo with him.
"It's very disgusting," Hutchison, 57, who started the contract job on Nov. 28 said yesterday in his Scarborough home.
"Some people would come up and say, 'Can I have a candy cane?' What am I going to say? No, sorry, they're 3 cents and only for children who are paying $10 to get their picture taken."
Hutchison, who also works as a musician, said this was his first time playing Santa and he was really getting into the spirit after he noticed only three children would visit the tiny workshop booth at the corner of the mall.
To keep the holiday cheer going, he decided to pass out the candy and make jokes to people passing by in the mall.
"The smiles I brought to some of the faces felt really good," he said. "To be fired over that, it's indicative of lust for money and greed. How can you pay Santa $3,000 and not hand out a couple hundred dollars of candy canes to the poor people?"
Hutchison said he was told by a marketing rep at the mall on Wednesday that he was "finished for the day. You're not going to be paid for the day and you're going to be escorted out of the mall by security." He was instructed to call his agent, who set him up with the job in the first place.
He said he then took off his Santa wig and beard because he thought he was fired -- despite management claims he wasn't at that point -- but was told by the mall rep that he's supposed to stay in character at all times.
DIDN'T WANT HIM
After a conference call with Sphere Entertainment's Patricia Silver, he was informed the mall bosses didn't want him to play Santa anymore.
Now, he's out $1,500 right before the holidays with a baby on the way.
But Silver said the dismissal wasn't over the candy canes, but rather because Hutchison was rude to his employers and didn't do what he was told.
"If you're told you have 'X' number of candy canes, the instructions are very specific," she said.
"Do not walk around the mall giving stuff out. That is not your job. It's not the issue of a 3 cents candy cane, it's because he couldn't follow instructions and he was rude and belligerent to the people he worked for."
There isn't anything in the contract that says Hutchison needs to have his costume on at all times, but when he adjusted his beard the first weekend he worked, he received a warning.
"They're worried that the person that's supposed to represent the spirit of Christmas can turn into someone this belligerent," Silver said.
"He insulted the marketing director by saying he was old enough to be her father and don't put your hands in your pants and stand like that."
Some shoppers outside the Scarborough mall called the firing very Scrooge-like.
"It's not right at all," Bob Armsden, 59, said. "If Santa's making people happy, that's what he's there for. Right now, more than ever, people need to be made happy."
Hutchison is expecting more than $500 owed to him by the New Year, but said despite the poor treatment, he'd love to have his job back.
But Silver said Parkway Mall isn't budging.
"I think an apology would definitely be in order," Hutchison said. "They really put a black mark on Santa."