John Toomey has been telling the same mischievous joke to his adult visitors for the 20 years he's been playing Santa Claus at a San Francisco Macy's—but this year, it got him fired. "When I ask the older people who sit on my lap if they've been good and they say, 'Yes,' I say, 'Gee, that's too bad,'" the man known as "Santa John" tells the San Francisco Chronicle. "Then, if they ask why Santa is so jolly, I joke that it's because I know where all the naughty boys and girls live." But the last—and now it seems, final—time he told the joke, an older woman and her husband complained.
Toomey, who keeps things clean with the kids that sit on his lap, was fired after the complaint, and his fans aren't happy. Workers say they're "devastated"; one adds that "people make a pilgrimage to see him every year, some for as long as 15 years. Everyone loves him. Everybody's just heartsick about this." Customers call him "the best Santa ever," and some expressed sadness at walking into Macy's and finding a new Santa in his place. The 68-year-old says he's asked Macy's to reconsider. "I've got my Social Security and some savings, so I'll be OK," he says. "But I sure do miss being Santa."