REGINA - Santa will have to write himself down on his naughty list.
A Santa at Cornwall Centre, a downtown Regina shopping mall, was slurring his speech and stumbling Friday morning before he was led away by staff, then arrested by police for being drunk.
Rahil Ahmad, who works in a kiosk near Santa's chair, said the same man in the red suit was also visibly inebriated on Thursday night.
Ahmad said the mall Santa was saying his ho-ho-hos strangely and parents were looking him over warily.
"You could see he was clearly intoxicated, but no one was bold enough to say anything, and then finally someone had to call security and do something about it because it was looking really bad."
Doug Kozak, general manager for the mall, said they were able to get another Santa to suit up on Friday morning so "children and parents were able to fulfil their Santa experience."
"Thankfully the situation was identified and dealt with appropriately before this man was in contact with children," he said in an email to The Canadian Press.
"This is a very unfortunate situation. The incident occurred before Santa hours and in a location in the shopping centre a fair distance away from the Santa display."
Regina police spokeswoman Lara Guzik said officers arrested a 73-year-old man at the mall about 11:20 a.m. Friday morning for public intoxication. She said no charges have been laid.
Kozak said a third-party contractor responsible for hiring Santas screens applicants, who must provide a current police record check. The contractor had proof of those checks on the man arrested Friday, he added.
"We take our responsibility of presenting Christmas traditions to families very seriously and we are extremely disappointed with this isolated incident," Kozak said.
"We will be reviewing our policies, procedures and protocols to identify opportunities for improvement."
(CJME, The Canadian Press)
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