A Forest City man portraying St. Nicholas in the town’s Santa House who apparently told a child to “lay off” the burgers and fries has resigned amid backlash from the community.
Nine-year-old Anthony Mayse visited the Santa on Saturday and asked for an iPod Touch and a drone for Christmas, but left crying because the Santa shamed his body, according to WLOS television news.
“When he got done, he said, ‘Lay off the hamburgers and french fries,’” Mayse told WLOS. “And that really just disrespected me, and I felt awful.”
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The story of the boy’s encounter with St. Nick has reached far and wide, said City Manager John Condrey.
This week the town of about 7,500 about 65 miles west of Charlotte has been fielding calls from media outlets throughout the country, including CNN, asking about the incident, Condrey said.
The Santa, who was not identified by the town, is paid $1,000 per season to portray St. Nick at the town’s Thanksgiving night tree lighting ceremony, in the Christmas parade and for several weekends at the Santa House, Condrey said.
He has been Santa for at least 10 years, Condrey said.
According to a statement from Condrey, the Santa has apologized to Mayse, his parent and the town.
A town representative also spoke to Mayse’s mother on Monday and also apologized, the statement said.
The Santa was scheduled for the next two Fridays and Saturdays, but has informed the town he would no longer provide his service as Santa, the statement said.
Condrey said the town has not yet found a replacement Santa.
Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi