In a scene right out of the Billy Bob Thornton movie Bad Santa, a man dressed as Santa Claus reacted to a fire alarm by screaming “get the f**k out” at the assembled children.
According to CNN, the incident took place at St. Ives, Cambridgeshire in England, at a holiday event called the St. Ives Fest. After a fire alarm went off nearby, the man dressed as Santa “burst out of his grotto, [ripped] off his beard and [screamed] at children to ‘get the f**k out.'” Then, during the evacuation, the Santa burst in, “ripped his hat and beard off in front of 50 odd kids and started shouting and swearing at people to leave,” according to a Facebook post by an attendee, quoted by CNN.
“FESt wish to apologise for any offence or distress caused to parents and children by the attempts to ensure all visitors and staff had exited the building and were safe,” the organization said on its website. The site also says that the Santa assisted in the evacuation. The event’s calendar still lists a “Santa’s Grotto” through December 16, though it’s not clear if the Santa who cursed will be invited to return.
Also, according to CNN, the incident so horrified some children present that their parents had to tell them that the man they’d just seen curse and tear off his beard was not actually the real Santa Claus and would end up on the “naughty list.”
It’s been quite a holiday season for events that test children’s faith in Ol’ Saint Nick. Earlier this month, a New Jersey school district had to apologize after a substitute teacher told a group of first-grade students that Santa Claus isn’t real. According to NJ.com, the principal said that he had spoken to the teacher in question “regarding her poor judgment in making this proclamation,” and later wrote a letter to parents encouraging them to “take appropriate steps to maintain the childhood innocence of the holiday season.”
In Bad Santa, released in 2003 and directed by Terry Zwigoff, Billy Bob Thornton plays an alcoholic, vulgar, and otherwise wildly inappropriate mall Santa, who takes the job as part of a long con aimed at robbing the mall on Christmas Eve along with his “elf” sidekick (Tony Cox.) The film also has “Santa” romancing a local woman (Lauren Graham) and befriending a young boy. A sequel to the film, Bad Santa 2, was released in 2016.