Add Santa to the naughty list. At least that's the determination made by a San Francisco Macy's store, who fired its long-time Santa after a couple complained he was cracking dirty jokes -- jokes Santa says are not inappropriate and only intended for big boys and girls.
John Toomey, who has played Santa for 20 years at the San Francisco Macy's seventh-floor Santaland, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he was sacked for cracking an adult joke to an adult, but the joke has been something he's been using for years.
"When I ask the older people who sit on my lap if they've been good and they say, 'Yes,' I say, 'Gee, that's too bad,' " Toomey told the Chronicle Monday.
"Then, if they ask why Santa is so jolly, I joke that it's because I know where all the naughty boys and girls live."
Toomey said kids who sit on his lap only ever get his popular laugh and questions about what toys they want. No jokes for them.
Macy's declined to comment to the Chronicle siting its policy not to discuss personnel issues. But some of Santa's helpers did.
"People make a pilgrimage to see him every year, some for as long as 15 years," said one worker. "Everyone loves him. Everybody's just heartsick about this."
Patrons agree. "He's totally the best Santa ever, very jolly and very authentic," said Sharon Owens, 56, of Oakland. "I've been coming to see him for years. There's just nobody better."
"Everything was going OK until this couple came in," Toomey told the Chronicle. "I don't know why they reported me. I don't think I said anything untoward."
"It's an important job," he added, "and the joking around like I did is only for the adults."
For now, the man who moves to the San Francisco area every year just to play Santa is looking for another gig. But he's hoping Macy's changes its mind.
Consider it his Christmas wish.