The Santa who told a three-year-old boy wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs hat that the hockey team "suck" has been fired by his employer ahead of Christmas, the Toronto Sun reports.
The boy was apparently first in line to see Santa at Lowe's Toronto Christmas Market in the city's historic Distillery District on Wednesday.
The mother, Mary Trent, told the Sun that Santa was half an hour late. Trent told the paper that Lowe's Santa proceeded to tease her son: "The first thing he tells my son is, 'Oh, you look like Paul Bunyan,'" Trent said.
Then the other shoe dropped: "Then he said, 'Oh, you're wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs tuque, you shouldn't be wearing that, they suck.'"
Trent intercepted the interaction and took her son away. She said her boy cried in the car all the way home, trying to understand what Santa meant. "I told him Santa was having a bad day. I can't really tell him Santa's a jerk," Trent said.
Eventually, the protective mother complained to the company, with results: Bad Santa has since been fired, and the family has been invited back for a second, more festive visit, the event creator told the Sun.
"The person that had spoken those words is no longer at the Toronto Christmas Market and will not be there in the future," Mathew Rosenblatt told the paper, adding, "It was upsetting to all of the people who work so hard to deliver a truly magical experience for our visitors."
While certainly surly, this Santa has nothing on the screaming, ruddy-faced Santa and his demented elves in the classic holiday film A Christmas Story.
Isn't it a time-honoured tradition?
Have you ever had a bad experience with the mall Santa in your city or town? Do you tell your kids he's the straight goods down from the North Pole?