Don't tell the kids in San Francisco, but at least one Santa won't be making the rounds this year -- and it isn't their fault.
Rather, it seems, it was just "time" for John Toomey, the Macy's Santa Claus who rose to fame last year after being fired from his Union Square store gig for telling an oft-told, off-color joke.
The 69-year-old Toomey was found dead Friday afternoon on the floor of the residential hotel room where he lived. It appears that the jolly old elf died from natural causes, but a cause wasn't immediately known, SFGate.com reported.
Toomey, who worked as a Macy's Santa for 20 years, was unceremoniously fired from his annual job at the department store after telling an adult couple a joke that he'd been telling for years.
In an interview with AOL Jobs shortly after his dismissal, Toomey said the exchange went something like this:
Santa: Have you been good this year?
Couple: Yes, Santa.
Santa: That's too bad. Do you know why Santa is so jolly?
Couple: No, Santa.
Santa: That's because Santa knows where all the bad boys and girls live.
Toomey reserved such humor for his adult patrons, he insisted, and had nary a complaint until that fateful encounter. With little ones, he said, he only talked about the gifts they wanted for Christmas.
"You'd think an adult couple who came to have their picture taken on Santa's lap would have a sense of humor," he said.
The public uproar caused by Macy's dismissal of Toomey led to an appearance on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," where Toomey cracked other racy jokes. One example: When asked if he could give the audience a big Santa "ho, ho, ho," Toomey told Leno that he couldn't, because it was no longer politically correct.
Despite being fired, Santa John, as Toomey was known, kept up his jolly spirit and before long landed a gig at Lefty O'Doul's, a popular pub just down the street from Macy's.
Having Toomey on the holiday throne at Lefty O'Doul's helped make the bistro's 10th annual Fire Department toy drive the most successful yet, according to restaurant co-owner Nick Bovis.
"Between 4 a.m. and midnight on Christmas Eve, because of John's celebrity, we were able to collect 12,000 presents for kids who would otherwise have had none," Bovis said. "What he brought to the scene was incredible."
Toomey had planned to return to Lefty's in December, SFGate noted. Now it appears that another elf will have to fill his beloved boots.
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