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

Chilliwack councillor has a message to share amid this time of fear: ‘there is hope’

‘I realize there’s much more than fear and worry… there is new life and there is community’: Jason Lum

Trailer severely damaged in Sunday morning fire in downtown Chilliwack

Two people were sleeping in the trailer at the time, but they managed to get out with their dog

Mayor reacts to suggestion to ship those in quarantine from the DTES to Chilliwack

‘People do best when they stay where they have supports already in place,’ stated Chilliwack mayor

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

Small Chilliwack grocery business offering free home delivery during COVID-19 pandemic

Dickens Sweets taking over-the-phone orders, won’t be charging to deliver it right to your doorstep

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

LifeLabs reducing public hours as it assists with COVID-19 testing

Coronavirus tests not done at B.C. patient centres, referrals only

24,000 Canadian Forces members ready for COVID-19 response: Defence Minister

No direct requests made by premiers yet, national defence minister says

IN DEPTH: How B.C. emptied its hospitals to prepare for COVID-19

Thousands of beds have been freed up, but patients and seniors have had to sacrifice

Crucial details of Ottawa’s proposed wage subsidy program expected today

The government has rolled out a bailout package totalling more than $200 billion

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

World COVID-19 morning update: Olympics delayed one year; 12,000 health care workers infected

Comprehensive world news update: Lockdown in UK showing signs of hope

Most Read