MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (CAP) - Consumer violence continued yesterday when the Santa Claus at the Mall of America was attacked by hundreds of children who broke through a plastic mistletoe-and-holly barrier.
"He really had no time to reason with them," said Minneapolis/St. Paul Police Chief John Hannigan, who said that Santa had grabbed a large, Styrofoam candy cane to defend himself, but it only took a few seconds before he was on the ground "with a face full of Stride-Rites."
Speaking from his hospital bed, Santa - who declined to be identified other than as "Mr. Kringle" - said he was just returning from a prolonged bathroom break, during which time the large crowd apparently had gotten unruly. "That's the last time I have the buffalo chicken wrap before a shift," he said.
The hundreds of children clawed at his face and beard and shouted epithets as they dragged him to the ground, according to the police report. Amateur video taken at the scene captured one boy, approximately 7 years old, screaming, "Where's the Wii you promised me last year, poophead?" as he pounded his little fists into Kringle's jiggling belly.
Police say Santa's security detail, two teenage girls dressed as elves, had left their post, apparently to go buy the movie Divergent.
"I feel, like, kind of bad, because I'd already seen it like seven times," said Mersedes Langerhoff, 17, of White Bear Lake. "But I feel a lot worse because I really want to buy Mockingjay Part 1 but it's not out yet."
The event follows a string of incidents wherein parents have threatened violence over the cost of a photo with Santa. In Poughkeepsie, N.Y., James Castroberti, 37, was charged with malicious destruction of property when, according to the police report, he took a lacrosse stick he'd just purchased as a gift at the Poughkeepsie Galleria and beat the inkjet photo printer in the Santa kiosk until it was a smoking heap.
As security carried him off, Catroberti allegedly yelled, "Twenty-five [expletive] bucks? You gotta be [expletive] [expletive] me!"
But the Mall of America incident has once again raised the prospect of arming Mall Santas, as Wal-Mart recently announced it would do with its store greeters. "It's a shame we have to go down that road," said Chief Hannigan, who has endorsed the plan. "But in these rough times, apparently the threat of getting coal in your stocking is no longer sufficient."
Meanwhile, the Mall of America's Santa says he feels "lucky to be alive." Doctors expect him to recover, but Mr. Kringle says he will likely have to claim permanent disability, as they tell him his lap may be permanently unable to support any child over 30 pounds.
"And these days they're all fat as hell," he pointed out.
- CAP News Staff