A Canadian shopping mall Santa Claus decked the halls so hard this Christmas season that he lost his job over it.
Gary Haupt, 69, was fired from his role as Santa Claus at the Cherry Lane Shopping Centre in Penticton, British Columbia this past week due to some gag photos featuring the jolly one clutching a woman’s breasts and taking a swig from a flask.
"They call the pictures dirty or inappropriate," Haupt told CTV News. "They're none of those things. It's just hard for me to swallow that part."
Michelle Prystay, the woman who appears to have Haupt clutching her breasts in one of the photos, participated in the photo shoot when she was over at Haupt’s house painting his partner’s nails. She says she never would have allowed the photos to be taken if she thought they were out of line. Now, her Facebook profile photo is of herself and Haupt along with the line “VIP Mobile Spa wishes you the breast Christmas ever.”
"They were fun adult humor,” Prystay, who runs a mobile manicure business, told CTV News. “The world has got to lighten up a bit."
On her Facebook page, Prystay detailed how she’s become good friends with Haupt and his partner, Sharon Nichols.
“I was simply doing Mrs. Claus’s nails and having fun taking pictures with Santa all in good humor. The movie Bad Santa was a blockbuster hit,” Prystay wrote. “Well this is Bad Santa 2 and it's becoming a hit LOL. What's the phrase? Any publicity is good publicity.”
In another photo, which was a specific request, Haupt is dressed in his Santa suit taking a swig from a metal flask.
"She wanted to do a picture with Santa and Santa appearing to drink from the flask," he told CTV. "It's in my nature: I am loud, boisterous, fun-loving. What you see with Santa is what you get with me."
But Haupt’s cheeky sense of humor didn’t fly with the mall’s administrators, and when they saw the photos uploaded to Facebook, he was terminated from his role.
"I believe [the mall administrators] should've said, 'This has got nothing to do with us.' My contract doesn't begin until Saturday morning," Haupt told CTV.
This isn’t the first time that Haupt’s snapshots have raised eyebrows. Last year, he took several photos with customers who wanted shots of them spanking, or getting spanked, by Santa. Those photos were not taken at the mall, either.
Despite the controversy over his snapshots, Haupt is still hoping to get back to his station at the mall before the big holiday. But he doesn’t exactly regret posting the silly snapshots, either.
"If what I do brings a smile to somebody, if it makes them happy, if it gives them a sense of peace — I'm good for that," Haupt told CTV.
Yahoo Lifestyle reached out to Haupt, Prystay and the Cherry Lane Shopping Centre, but did not receive responses by the time of publication.
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