Santa and his Christmas truck were banned from the streets of Ipswich, Queensland, Australia, on Saturday night leaving the community and Mayor Paul Pisasale dumbstruck. The 14-year-old tradition may have been brought to an end when the spectacularly lit truck was booked by an Ipswich Traffic Branch police officer for 'using lights to dazzle other road users'. Cr Pisasale said he hoped common sense would prevail and the truck would be allowed back on the road.
The truck was making its annual pilgrimage around Ipswich streets on Saturday night when it and two Ulysses Club motorcyclists following, were pulled over at 9.20pm. A police statement said the officer had followed the procession for 2km, sighting a number of traffic offences, including a motorcycle proceeding through a stop sign with flashing blue lights. The drivers of the truck and each of the motorcyclists were fined $44. The incident left a number of children upset when it appeared Santa might be taken into custody.
The truck is renowned around Ipswich and draws thousands of residents onto the streets each year. Scott Ryan, dressed as Santa, and Suzanne Barnard, a Christmas Elf, couldn't believe their run had ended. They were told on Sunday afternoon to keep the truck off the road while the traffic tickets were reviewed. "This is the first time it won't go ahead and we didn't know anything was wrong," Ms Barnard said.
Cr Pisasale said the incident was not reflective of the city's relationship with the Ipswich police force. "They have been doing it for 14 years and I think this officer needs to be transferred to the North Pole to chill out for a bit," he said. Acting Police Community Safety Minister Steve Dickson said he was aware of the alleged incident. I would like to remind all Queenslanders that nobody is above the road rules. The number one concern during the holiday season is to ensure that everyone has a safe Christmas," he said.