A longtime Santa at Macy’s in downtown San Francisco was fired this weekend after a couple complained about his mildly off-color humor.
With his flowing beard and red cheeks, John Toomey, 68, looks very much the part of jolly St. Nick, and has worked as Santa at Macy’s for 20 years.
This weekend, he told an adult couple the same joke he has told hundreds of times in his decades-long career:
“When I ask the older people who sit on my lap if they’ve been good and they say, ‘Yes,’ I say, ‘Gee, that’s too bad,’ ” Toomey told the San Francisco Chronicle.
He added: “Then, if they ask why Santa is so jolly, I joke that it’s because I know where all the naughty boys and girls live.”The couple weren’t amused. They complained, leading to Toomey’s dismissal.
Toomey insists he tells the joke only to adults and never to the kids who sit on his knee.
Macy’s did not return requests for comment.
The incident has made waves around the U.S., and even as far as London, where headlines screamed “Sacked Santa” and “Bad Santa Fired.”
But despite his disappointment, the incident seems to have worked out well for Toomey, who was offered dozens of new jobs after news of his dismissal became public. He has now accepted a job as Santa for a local pub, Lefty O’Doul’s, to help with its annual fire department toy drive.
“We’ll offer you double what Macy’s paid, and you can drink and eat all day long as much as you want,” Nick Bovis of Lefty’s told Toomey.
Bovis also told the Chronicle that Santa is allowed to tell any jokes he likes.