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)

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

(File Photo)
Calling all Elkford non-profits: Bursary Program registration is now open

The bursary gives $1,000 to a local non-profit to assist with community-related projects or programs

(File Photo)
Elkford Business Walks to begin in February

Topics of discussion include changes, successes, and the impact of COVID-19 on businesses

(File Photo)
KES brings employment education to those over 55

The Encore program is targeted to adults past traditional retirement years looking for employment

Angel Flight East Kootenay was one of the three recipients of funding from the inaugural Giving Event. (Photo Contributed)
100 local women collect $10,500 for community organizations

The 100 WWC Fernie donated $3,500 to three grassroots organizations via their first Giving Event

Colleen Braconnier and her care aid, Karla McKie, outside of Rocky Mountain Village. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)
‘We have such a good group here’: Local senior keeps head held high throughout pandemic

COVID-19 hasn’t stopped RMV resident, Colleen Braconnier, from remaining positive

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)

Most Read