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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Trust delivers social grants, several in Trail and Rossland

Columbia Basin Trust supports 31 projects with $680,000 in social grants

FedEx distribution centre coming to Castlegar

Development permit for ground facility before council next week.

Kootenay teams heading for curling provincials

Team Buchy and Team Nichols won the senior playdowns.

Big White to host snowboard World Cup event

Professional snowboarders will race at Big White Ski resort at the end of January

Kids across Canada more at risk of hospitalization from flu this season: doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam said influenza B does not usually peak until February or later

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

Kelowna hotel to award couples for baby-making with Nooner deal

The deal includes a free stay every Valentine’s Day for the next 18 years

On the job hunt with Nelson’s Make A Change Canada

The employment charity is organizing next week’s Kootenay Patricks, Montreal Canadiens game

‘Scariest boat ride of my life’: Passengers trapped by ice on rocky B.C. ferry sailing

The Nimpkish docked in Bella Coola on Jan.12 coated in a thick layer of ice

B.C. pair ordered to pay $55,000 for oil tank discovered four years after selling home

Judge says defendants breached contract, despite being unaware of tank until basement flooded

Canada to give $25,000 to families of each Canadian who died in Iran plane crash

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made it clear that Canada still expects Iran to compensate victims

Most Read