Gary Haupt (right) lost his upcoming job as Penticton’s Cherry Lane Shopping Centre Santa for the holiday season after posting this image and another crude photo to Facebook. Jennifer Andrews, dean of the Victor Nevada Santa School in Calgary, Alta., said it’s lamentable but Santa must be held to a higher standard. (Photo from Facebook)

‘What would Santa do?’: Head of Santa school agrees with firing of Penticton man

Jennifer Andrews said the incident is lamentable, but Santa is held to a higher standard

Those that attend Canada’s Santa school are asked one very important question when it comes to dealing with tricky situations: What would Santa do?

Jennifer Andrews, dean of Victor Nevada Santa School in Calgary, Alta., said that while she can empathize with Penticton’s Gary Haupt, who was recently fired as Santa from the Cherry Lane Shopping Centre for posting crude images of himself as the man in red on social media, those portraying Santa are held to a higher 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,” said Andrews.

“I did hear about (Gary and his situation) and it is really lamentable and I hate it when these unfortunate things happen surrounding children, first and foremost, and Santa and the image of Santa.”

Andrews said that Santa’s that go through the school are warned to be careful about their image, since they are representing a character much larger than themselves.

READ MORE: Crude photos land Penticton’s Santa on the ‘naughty list’

“You really have to be careful, because you’re in somewhat in a position of authority, so you have to be careful with that,” said Andrews. “As it relates to (Cherry Lane), there are a lot of clients and malls that hire Santa, and you are their image for that time. You’re the front man, and everybody is coming there to see you.”

Haupt had a contract with Cherry Lane to act as the mall’s Santa beginning Nov. 30, but the contract was terminated on Wednesday after a complaint arose after he posted images of himself as Santa on Facebook that depicted him drinking from a flask and pretending to grab a woman’s breasts.

“Santa really has to be without blemish. He’s really there for the kids, whether they’re under 10 years of age or over 99 – because we’re all kids at heart – and there’s this big image that needs to be upheld,” said Andrews.

She acknowledges that sometimes Santa can be put in tricky situations when the client or customer wants them to take a crude photo or engage in lewd behaviour, for example, so the school advises them to think like they’re the real Santa.

“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,” said Andrews. “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.

“So really, you just have to think ‘What would Santa do?’ so we have a saying here about W.W.S.D. and you really have to know what that is.”

Andrews said the school encourages its Santas to dig deep and find their character in the role, so that each Santa is unique and not “cookie cutter.”

She said they often tell them to be like snowflakes – unique and beautiful – and their role is like an iceberg, there is so much more beneath the surface than just a red suit and a white beard.

Haupt said he stand behind the photos, which were taken in jest, and added that he is not upset with the person who complained but believes Cherry Lane should have shown leadership, rather than terminating him.

Representatives with Cherry Lane Shopping Centre have not returned a request for comments on this matter.

Just Posted

Mirella Project helps Salmon Arm residents go green at Christmas

Two more events planned to help combat climate change in December

Snapshot: Sicamous Fire Department collects for annual toy drive

On Sunday, Dec. 8 the fire department collected food and toys to benefit those in need.

Sicamous Eagles lose to league-leading Kimberley Dynamiters

The Eagles will be right back at it with a Sunday afternoon game against Chase.

People who are homeless in Salmon Arm provide consultants with key information

Urban Matters consultants gather information from ‘experts’ as they work on housing strategy

‘Kind of lacking:’ Injured Bronco wonders why Canada won’t fund spinal surgery

“I think if Canada can step in and advance this program”

Police negotiate with man barricaded in Victoria synagogue

Children evacuated from daycare on site

Letter: Federal Conservative leader may face coup in new year

Writer anticipates leadership review will be struggle for Andrew Scheer

Dance cancelled after Alberta teacher’s climate lesson prompts online threats

School district near Red Deer cancelled annual family dance due to Facebook comments

Man with possible ties to Kelowna wanted by Vernon RCMP

Dustin Kenneth Veselic may be connected to the Kelowna area

Feds not enforcing standards on Hungarian duck imports, B.C. farmer says

‘You have no way of knowing what’s in the bag’

Farm buildings drive value of Sumnmerland’s November building permits

Permits issued so far this year total $45,378,800

Letter: Time to do away with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Writer says Christmas classic revolves around bullying, false friendship

In surprise move, defence won’t call witnesses for accused in Abbotsford school killing

‘Change of instructions’ results in defence closing case without calling evidence

Most Read