Naughtiest on Santa’s list? You would be surprised
QUINN DAVIS WASHTENAW VOICE
Santa has a lot of people on his naughty list. After all their temper tantrums, dirty words and screaming matches, these folks barely deserve the lump of coal Santa will put in their stockings. But the naughtiest on his list aren’t who you’d expect.
“Parents,” Santa said. “The kids are never the problem.”
Santa Wayne, as this Briarwood Mall Santa calls himself, never has to use his special Santa powers to find out if these parents are being bad or good. Usually they lay the evidence out right in front of him.
“Once I had to be escorted out of the mall by three security guards,” he said, explaining that it occurred while he was working in Gaithersburg, Md., near the end of his shift. A man was angry at how slow the line of children was moving.
“The guy was so upset that he was yelling the F-word and threatened to kill me,” Santa Wayne said. For 45 five minutes, this man threw a tantrum so big that no one could get through him to see Santa, who ultimately refused to see the man’s children for his own safety.
“If he hadn’t done that, we would’ve gotten to his three kids and probably 10 more families,” Santa Wayne said.
A few ornery parents aren’t really parents at all; they’re pet owners. One woman wanted a picture of Santa with her little dog. However, when it was the dog’s turn to visit with Santa, the canine had something much different in mind. It simply couldn’t hold it in anymore and began to defecate right there next to Santa’s shiny black boots.
Santa and his coworkers tried to tell the woman that she would have to clean up after her dog before they would allow the pair to see Santa, but it was too late. The woman picked her little dog up and placed him right on Santa’s knee — feces and all.
“People just don’t want to lose their spot in line,” Santa Wayne said with a shrug.
Of course, not all parents have such disrespect for Santa. Santa Wayne has met his fair share of admirers as well.
“I get about a dozen proposals every year,” Santa Wayne said. “A third are from women, a third are from men and a third are from little girls.”
Most of Santa’s visitors have a milder approach. Gavin Boggs, a 1-year-old toddler from Milan, was just plain happy to see the notoriously jolly man. It was Gavin’s second time seeing Santa.
IPI EVENT PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY PHOTO
“Last year was a little rough. This year he was more content,” said Gavin’s dad Brandon.
Santa Wayne says he lives in the North Pole, of course, but he is originally from Beaverton, a small town about two hours north of Ann Arbor. He has had his fluffy white beard for 16 years now and has been Santa for eight.
Wayne first became Santa after he was approached at his local mall.
“I had on a red sweater and a Santa hat. The manager ran up to me and asked me if I would consider being Santa,” he recalled. “I had never thought about it until then!”
Santa Wayne became part of IPI Event Photography soon after. IPI, a company that only uses Santas with natural beards, has sent Santa Wayne all over the country to ask boys and girls about their Christmas dreams. This is the first time he has spent the entire season in Michigan.
While Santa Wayne says he enjoys being closer to his hometown, his favorite working experience happened while he was Santa-ing in Champaign, Ill. He had been there for about a week and a half when a woman and her special-needs daughter came to visit him.
“The little girl couldn’t talk or walk, but she could smile,” Santa Wayne said. He picked her up and sat her on his lap. He talked to her the whole time while he rocked her back and forth.
“She really liked it,” Wayne said. “She left with a smile and tears down her cheeks.”
A few days later, Santa Wayne received a call from his manager asking him to talk with him in his office.
“I was worried I might be getting fired,” Wayne said.
Instead, Santa Wayne walked into the office to see his coworkers crying while they sat near the phone. The little girl’s mother had called and left a message thanking him. She wrote him a letter, too — one that hangs on display at his home.
As Santa Wayne describes this memory, his eyes begin to glisten.
“That’s the best thing that’s ever happened to this Santa,” he said wistfully. “By far.”