The children of downtown Portland know who Santa is. They've sat on the same lap every year at Macy's, and when they bump into him during the summer, he'll explain that he's on vacation, which is why he's shed the fur-lined red suit. But the Santa they know and love is no more; Macy's fired its two veteran Santas this year, and replaced them with fake-bearded Saint Nicks from a national vendor.
Santa Tom and Santa Phil have been working for the Portland Santa company for seven and 12 years, respectively, and have become familiar faces for both parents and children every holiday season, reports the Daily Mail. But Macy's decided to populate their Santalands across the country this year through an East Coast supplier. That way all of Macy's Santas will look the same.
"It's not just a public display that's inanimate," said Joe Hawes, who owns the Portland Santa company. "It's personal and emotional, especially for young children, and for people who have built this into their annual family traditions, it's very significant."
"I have an entire row of photos of my children with Santas Phil and Tom," said Melissa Rodewald on the Santaland Facebook page. "It's a Christmas tradition we won't give up!"
"We've been going to Macy's (Meier & Frank) for 18 years with our kids. Now the tradition continues with our grandson," said Jane Bennett. She took the tot to the new Santaland and had a horrible experience, she says: rushed through, yelled at by an elf, and handed photos that were decidedly lacking in magic.
The old, "authentic" Santas aren't hanging up their red hats, however. They're setting up a rival Santa display nearby in Pioneer Courthouse Square.
"Needless to say, we will be visiting the real Santa at Pioneer Square," says Bennett, "and telling our grandson that the one we saw last week was his helper."
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