Santa Claus is dead. Not the man of myth who magically brings presents on Christmas Eve and who keeps that list of who has been naughty or nice, but rather the ruby cheeked, chubby, white haired man who played Santa Claus for decades at our local Macy’s.
John Toomey was the only Santa Claus (in physical form) that my daughter knew. He was jolly, funny and seriously looked like Santa. In comparison to other Santa’s that her pals went to see, ours was the best. He was so accurate looking that almost all the little ones who sat on his lap truly believed he flew in from the North Pole to hold court with them. But now this Santa is gone…
Mr. Toomey had become a news story after he was fired from the San Francisco Macy’s for making a racy remark to an adult patron. He would never utter an off-color remark to the kids who came to see him, but on occasion he would make flirty comments to the grown-ups. He had been doing that for years until one woman took offense, complained and got him fired. But the community rallied behind him and a local restaurant called Lefty O’Doul’s gave him a lifetime contract to be their Santa.
Our family was planning on following Mr. Toomey aka our Santa Claus to his new gig this year, so that all the photographs we have our daughter were with the same Santa. But not anymore, since he sadly passed away. He had suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure for years. He was a man who truly loved his job saying, “I’m not in the best of shape, but I get along OK. I do it for the kids. Everything I do is for the kids.”
And this year – her 5th Christmas – our daughter will probably be wondering where the “real” Santa Claus is. Since he was part of many a San Francisco family’s traditions, this is probably a refrain that will be heard across the city. For those hoping to continue the Santa myth, they can say that it’s Santa’s brother or hope their kids won’t notice. Other children who remember Mr. Toomey as their only Santa, the myth may sadly come to an end.
Mr. Toomey, our Santa, will be missed.
During the holidays or year-round, teach your children how to give back