A Santa Claus at the Mall of Waycross in Georgia, sparked controversy and was “replaced” after posting a photo of himself wearing a hat supporting President Trump shared his side of the story Tuesday via Facebook.
Frank Skinner has played Santa Claus every Christmas for nearly 50 years, including the past 14 years at the Mall of Waycross. He was fired after he took a picture while on duty wearing a red baseball cap that showed his support for the president in 2020, First Coast News reports.
Skinner believes someone saw the photo on his personal Facebook page and notified the mall management.
Mall manager James White told the outlet that the retailer was unaware of jolly old Saint Nicks’ public display of his politics. “We were not aware it happened,” White shared about the picture posted on Facebook and shared by hundreds of people in the area. “It was done completely without our knowledge.”
“It’s safe to say he will not be wearing this hat around here,” he added. “This particular Santa has been replaced.”
White continued, “Our kids are our focus and we put a lot of hard work into this. We want children to believe in Santa for as long as they can and the spirit of giving.”
Skinner has since told his side of the story with a post on his Facebook page, Skinner said he had no intention of offending anyone and has learned a serious lesson.
“At the time I thought it was harmless fun,” Skinner wrote. “Now I realize in this day and age that I should not have posted it. Obviously, it did offend some folks. I can assure everyone that was not my intent. I have learned a lot from this. Going forward I will keep this in mind.”
Skinner said that when he did it the place was closing and no children were around when he decided to switch hats and pose with the Trump hat.
“I just felt like my constitutional rights were being taken away,” Skinner explained.
He never meant to “create a firestorm by doing that but simply intended to post the photo on my page for a little humor, as I have many friends and family who, like me, support our president.”