Gary Haupt, Facebook.

B.C. mall Santa gets fired after crude photos surface

The dean of a Santa school in Alberta says a B.C. mall Santa deserved to be dismissed after crude photos of him surfaced on social media.

As reported by the Vancouver Island Free Daily, Jennifer Andrews of Victor Nevada Santa School in Calgary, said that while she empathizes with former Penticton mall Santa Gary Haupt, she believes those representing St. Nick should be held to a high standard.

“This goes well beyond social media, it goes back to how you compose yourself as an individual right from the beginning. Social media is merely a reflection of what you’re doing,” she said.

Haupt was terminated from his Santa job last month at Cherry Lane Shopping Centre after the mall received a complaint about inappropriate Facebook photos on his account. One photo showed Haupt pretending to grope a female friend with her consent, and then another of him drinking a flask.

Andrews said that the Santa’s that go through her school are warned to be careful about their image because of who they are portraying, adding that they are encouraged to think as if they are actually Santa Claus.

“We tell them that Santa never takes a leaded drink on the job, he never smokes on the job, he never says questionable things, he never says suggestive things,” she said. “Sometimes the client will request this kind of stuff, so we tell them that they always have to stay in character and remember, ‘I am in character, I am Santa right now.’ and they’re portraying him on his behalf when he can’t be there.”

Haupt told the Vancouver Island Free Daily that he stands behind the photos and is not upset with the person who complained. However, he believes the Cherry Lane Shopping Centre should have shown leadership rather than firing him.