Santa has been sacked after allegedly telling children about the US school massacre before revealing he was not the real Father Christmas. The Kennett family, from Abingdon, had hoped for a festive day out at Notcutts garden centre in Nuneham Courtenay, near Abingdon, Oxfordshire. But mum Wendy said it turned into the “worst day of her life” and left her three children in tears.
The 33-year-old and her husband Steven took their children – Ryan, 10, Amy, seven, and Katie, six – to visit Santa on Saturday. She said her children told Santa they had been good this year. But she said he replied: “Well there are bad people in the world and bad things happen, like what happened to those children in America.” She added he had just started telling the children more about what had happened in America, and assuming he was talking about the Sandy Hook school shooting, Mr Kennett interrupted.
Mrs Kennett said the Santa then asked the two girls to leave so he could “have a word with their brother”. After whispering something to Ryan, which his parents could not hear, she said the 10-year-old ran out crying before telling her: “Santa told me he is not real, it’s just you and dad.” The two girls were stood next to their parents listening at the time. Mrs Kennett, who paid £5.99 per child, said: “I was totally furious. I now had three children in tears.”
She said she went to the manager to ask that the Santa be sacked on the spot, but he was kept on for the rest of the day. Notcutts spokesman Jim Hawker said: “We have accepted the customers’ version of events and have dismissed the Santa, apologised and refunded the family.” He said: “The individual has been dismissed from the position and replaced with another Santa for the festive period. Notcutts certainly feel this was an error of judgment on behalf of the individual.” He added the Santa in question had worked at the centre for a number of years and had not attracted any other complaints.