Naughty Penticton Santa living large after mall firing | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Naughty Penticton Santa living large after mall firing

Gary Haupt in a more recent photo as St. Nick.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Gary Haupt

A South Okanagan Santa doesn’t like the term “naughty” to describe a series of photos that got him fired from a mall years ago.

He prefers the term “eye catching.”

Gary Haupt, known as Santa Gary, has been acting as Santa Claus for years before he was fired from Cherry Lane Shopping Centre in 2019 for two damning photos.

While in his Santa suit, he pretended to take a swig from a flask, and another where he put his hands close to a woman’s breasts (at her request). Some people found it humorous and ironic to see Old St. Nick acting this way and that’s why Haupt shared the photos on Facebook. 

This was one of two photos that got Gary Haupt fired from his job as Santa at the mall in Penticton.
This was one of two photos that got Gary Haupt fired from his job as Santa at the mall in Penticton.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Gay Haupt

“It was theatre, it was staged,” he said.

The photos were taken with consent and planned by the subjects. In the three years since his firing after no discussion with Cherry Lane, Haupt said he’s been busier than ever.

“They weren’t naughty photos, somebody might describe them as such,” he said, adding he would do those types of photos again in a heartbeat.

READ MORE: Two years after he was fired from the Penticton mall, this naughty Santa is as busy as ever

“Here we are today and I’m busier than a one-armed paper hanger,” he said, adding he recently attended Mamas for Mamas event as Santa Claus and takes all kinds of photos with both children and adults.

“I’m not the usual Santa guy, I’m big, I’m loud,” he said. “I don’t slither into a room, I arrive.”

He doesn’t work for the mall anymore so he doesn’t care. Haupt will however, preface his conversations with people who approach him with Santa requests to let them know he was the Cherry Lane Santa who was fired.

“I say ‘do you know who I am?’ They say ‘Oh yes, we do. We like you.’”

He originally became a Santa when driving a bus in Vancouver and he began wearing red and slowly transitioned to being jolly St. Nick when he lived in Kitimat.

“People who take the opportunity to be Santa Claus seriously, they just take on the responsibility. Kids want to believe in that so then it’s my job to make sure that they do,” he said.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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