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Michael Rielly

Man Who Looks Like Santa Asked To Leave Six Flags

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Michael Rielly

Man Who Looks Like Santa Asked To Leave Six Flags

CBS 11
December 12, 2016
By Andrea Lucia

EXCERPT:

BURLESON (CBS11) – A Burleson man resembling Santa Claus ended up on Six Flags’ naughty list on Saturday.  Jerry Henderson got in trouble for looking like Santa and handing out candy to kids at the theme park.

Jerry Henderson and his wife visit Six Flags Over Texas almost every weekend and walk the park for exercise. He told CBS11 his routine has been going on for three years and he’d never had a problem until now.

“This ain’t a costume,” insisted Henderson, who for almost 20 years has maintained a resemblance to Santa. During the holiday season, Henderson wears the same Christmas-themed vest and hat every day.

“I go to Walmart like this. This is me,” he said. “I enjoy making kids smile,” he said.

Henderson got in trouble after he says a woman asked him to pose for a picture with her children.

“Knelt down, put my arms around them, and afterward I reached in my wife’s walker, pulled out two candy canes, handed it to them,” recalled Henderson.

He said he was then approached by park security.

“’We’re gonna have to ask you to leave.’ I said, ‘For what reason?’ He said, ‘You look too much like Santa Claus.’ And I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me?’” he recalled. “I do not approach kids. The parents come to me.”

Six Flags released this statement on the matter:

“We apologize that Mr. Henderson was inconvenienced, but the safety of our guests is always our highest priority. We cannot knowingly allow individuals who are not approved by the park to interact with small children in this capacity. Mr Henderson was handing out candy to our younger guests and was dressed up as Santa which is in violation of our No Costume policy. When asked to change he refused and at that point was asked to leave.”

Henderson said he never approaches children, but responds to requests from their parents.

He also said he offered to take off the hat and stop giving away candy, but he claims a park manager told him he’d have to lose the beard.

“Not for you, Six Flags, or anybody else, am I shaving my beard off,” he said.

Henderson requested a refund from Six Flags for his season pass, but has yet to hear back.

SOURCE: http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2016/12/12/man-who-looks-like-santa-asked-to-leave-six-flags/

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SCSanta
3 hours ago, Glenn Johnson said:

To my untrained eye, he was in costume, just as much as Thomas Tolbert was at DisneyWorld. I'm sorry, but they are doing nothing less than shouting ME! ME! ME! with their outfits and interactions. I surely don't walk around with a bag of candy canes ready to hand out on the off chance someone might walk up to me. There are hundreds of RBS that go to theme parks every year, many of them wearing a red shirt, and they get stopped and asked to pose for a picture. They don't get kicked out because they don't make a spectacle of themselves and accommodate the guests as discreetly as possible. Yes, sometimes Santa does go on vacation and he happens to enjoy some of the same places other families enjoy.

Glenn...I certainly would not say that you have an untrained eye.

I agree with 6 Flags on this one! I spent two days in Savannah at a Santa experience studio shoot wearing something very similar to what this guy had on. I only put on the continental coat for one shot...the rest of the time, they hired me to look just like this guy looks. I would never wear something like that in public unless I was contracted to do so. And then handing out candy to children? All he needed was an unmarked white van with tinted windows...

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Santa Warren

I don't think Santa world visit a theme park in the 21st century dressed like that if not on duty.  I agree about giving out candy canes and posing for pictures.  I bet most people thought he was a park attraction.   

Edited by Santa Warren
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Santa Castor

I am wondering how he made in through security at the entrance with the bag full of candy canes. I suspect the manager telling him he would have to lose the beard was more a case of wanting the 'confrontation' to end than any statement of men with white beards would be refused admission to Six Flags.  If it were simply a case of his attire, I would be more supportive, in this day and age, you simply cannot walk around handing out things to children.  As far as his choice of headgear, my Santa's hat is way too warm to wear as casual attire.  When I go to the theme parks here in Orlando, I am always surprised how much attention the park employees bring to me, rather than me bringing attention to myself.  Six Flags should refund his pass, they got plenty of publicity, as did he.  I suspect they are both quite satisfied with that result.

 

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Santa Caras

(me rolling my eyes!!)

Guys like this make us look bad. People see one guy acting in such a manner and lump us in one bag. Me?? Eyes down, blk hat, and a purposeful stride. People yell Santa!! and my pace increases and head even MORE downturned. He's only out for the attention to himself but wrong time, place, and just not right. 

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Elf Without Jingles
16 hours ago, Glenn Johnson said:

To my untrained eye, he was in costume, just as much as Thomas Tolbert was at DisneyWorld. I'm sorry, but they are doing nothing less than shouting ME! ME! ME! with their outfits and interactions. I surely don't walk around with a bag of candy canes ready to hand out on the off chance someone might walk up to me. There are hundreds of RBS that go to theme parks every year, many of them wearing a red shirt, and they get stopped and asked to pose for a picture. They don't get kicked out because they don't make a spectacle of themselves and accommodate the guests as discreetly as possible. Yes, sometimes Santa does go on vacation and he happens to enjoy some of the same places other families enjoy.

That's exactly the kind of pet peeve a lot of us in the Kringleverse have to deal with at some point in our careers as performing Santas. You either get the joke, or you don't. Even your humble Elf Without Jingles has had to confront this issue. It may or may not be  fun, but one thing is still certain: you wanna entertain your target audience without making a scene. If, on the opposite end of things, it gets to a point where you do find yourself making a scene, try to leave as quickly and as quietly as possible. Failing that, you might wanna take your case to the media, as had to happen in this particular instance.

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Santa Marty

Frankly, I am too busy doing gigs to really wade in here.  But I can NOT move around in public and NOT be recognized as a Clausman.  No matter what I wear, but there is a difference in flat out, full on, looking like Santa in full regalia when you are not a part of a promotion or event, paid or unpaid. 

This is ABSOLUTELY where being a traditionally bearded Santa has its real advantages.   

I've done work for Great America/Six Flags, and Knotts Berry Farm as Santa and I did have to move about the park (escorted) from scene to scene for shoots. (in August)  But Just going there on my own.... NO way.  I was allowed with the permission of the Park Manager to explore the park during some down time, in a suggestive street style (red cap, shorts plaid shirt, red shoes). I had no issues.  

During this time of year these parks celebrate a WinterFest season and they DO have their own Santa, so regardless I can see where the park would not want this man's (or mine for that matter) during Winterfest. 

When doing an appearance at a Disney property, they absolutely will NOT let you even enter the lobby dressed in any way shape of form as Santa or any other Character.  When at Disney, I was escorted to an unoccupied suite near my event to dress.  I returned to the same room to dress in my "street clothes".  And escorted all the way to my valeted vehicle.  There was no public contact, I was at a private on property appearance.

 

Well, I guess I wasn't as busy as I thought I was.... but I AM LATE NOW!

 

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Glenn Johnson
19 hours ago, Santa Castor said:

...  When I go to the theme parks here in Orlando, I am always surprised how much attention the park employees bring to me, rather than me bringing attention to myself.  ...

 

That was my experience, as well, at Mickey's house just last month. Chip and Dale stopped their meet and greet line and did a 'we're not worthy' bow toward me as I walked by. During the Monster's Inc Laugh Floor, they put my picture up on the big screen and announced Santa was visiting on vacation. I was really uncomfortable with both events.

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High Country Santa Mike

During my first year of doing Santa I tried to do the Santa casual thing in public.  I thought it would be cool---ended up being more of a hassle.  Don't do it anymore.  I definitely wouldn't go to a Six Flags in a red vest and Santa hat.  The only purpose for doing that is to get the result this guy did....attention for himself.  In public during the season, unless I am doing a gig, I avoid red or green anything (unless it is a Carolina Hurricanes hat---in NC, I have to represent the home state team). 

 

There are a few Santas out there this year who are giving the rest of us a bad name.....sad

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Chris Capstone

Self-absorbed idiot.

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Santa Marty

Why is it that you rarely, if ever, see a traditionally Bearded Santa getting caught up in stuff like this?

Does a lengthy growth of facial hair consume so much of a bodies resources that there is nothing left to think with?

PLUS, what is wrong with just apologizing for creating an issue and just excuse yourself & leave?  Does one think that a beard is racial in nature?  Why make a big deal of it in the first place?  

<please refer to paragraph 2>

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Michael Rielly
5 hours ago, Santa Marty said:

Why is it that you rarely, if ever, see a traditionally Bearded Santa getting caught up in stuff like this?

<snip>

1. It takes too long to put all the stuff on

2. My wife would kick my ...

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Chris Capstone

I think this has been mentioned on here before but I think many of these guys can't handle the attention. Many RBS guys have no background in theater or entertainment. Many are overweight middle aged guys who never had anyone pay attention to them their entire life. Then all of sudden they grow a beard and bingo! Instant "celebrity." They have never experienced anything like that before in their life. It becomes an addiction so they feel compelled to do the Santa 24/7/365 thing with all the casual wardrobe, red vehicle, etc. Whenever they are in public they are looking to get their "fix."

They say stuff like "I don't approach children" blah, blah, blah. Baloney! If they are going about off duty/off season in red and carrying candy canes (and business cards, ugh!) they aren't fooling anyone. They say "I do it for the children!" BS, they are attention starved freaks and they give legitimate Santa Claus actors a bad name.

This is not meant to be an indictment of all RBS. There are many RBS who do it right and don't make asses of themselves off duty and off season. If you feel this post is an indictment of all RBS then you may need to do some serious soul searching about what you're doing and why you are doing it.

I think the main reason TBS are not seen doing this is because we have a clear realization the character is not us. Santa is totally separate from us. It goes on, we become Santa, it comes off, we are us again. Some RBS get the line blurred between themselves and the character because they don't ever not look like the character.

I find it fascinating that nearly all TBS avoid using the "Santa Bob", or "Santa Bill" type identifier in their marketing. Most TBS simply refer to "Santa." This mixing of one's actual name with Santa seems to me to often be indicative of a mixing of the personality with the character. I understand that guys are looking for a way to distinguish themselves from others and I think it's fine to use those names on here and among ourselves, but I don't like to see it on stuff intended for the general public and especially children. It was one of weirdest things to me when I first became involved in the Santa community.

I'd rather see guys distinguish themselves with something like "Santa Claus by Bob Smith" or adopt a company or business name which is what I do with "Storybook Santa Claus." On my website I use the phrase "a Santa appearance by Storybook Santa Claus..." 

Of course it's a free country and I'm not the Santa Claus police. But I hope people will think about this stuff and try to raise the level of professionalism in our field.

Edited by Chris Capstone
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Michael Rielly

My dear friend Gerry MacNeil has had a beard since his teens. I have known Gerry since I was 10 years old. Gerry is now close to retirement and I have recently taken over a few of his long time gigs. And I am incredibly honored that he selected me to be his successor. 

During the season, everyone knows Gerry as Santa Claus. But off season, if you didn't know the guy, you would never suspect him to be a Santa. He never wears red, passes out cards or candy canes, and never ho ho hos in a restaurant. When you meet him out of the suit, he is normally wearing jeans and he ties his very long white beard in a pony tail. He looks like an old hippie. Actually, I think he is an old hippie. :D

I consider he and his wife some of my closest friends. They both have told me that they love being Santa and Mrs. Claus but also love having a life. They are involved in so many things outside of Christmas and Santa Claus. Being Santa (and Mrs. Claus) is just ONE thing that they do.

Anyway, if and when I ever decide to grow out my own beard, Gerry will be my inspiration for "out of suit" behavior.

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Santa Andy G.

Well said Chris.

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Schwindy
On ‎12‎/‎17‎/‎2016 at 0:38 AM, Santa Marty said:

Why is it that you rarely, if ever, see a traditionally Bearded Santa getting caught up in stuff like this?

Marty I had a response but I think Chris is said MUCH better than what I am going to say!

18 hours ago, Chris Capstone said:

I think the main reason TBS are not seen doing this is because we have a clear realization the character is not us. Santa is totally separate from us. It goes on, we become Santa, it comes off, we are us again.

Now for me: I am TOO busy to event try to pull of Santa without the facial hairs, (as I feel that is what anyone like this guy is doing) let a lone even try to be Santa with it being August let a lone Feb or March. With what little I do in public the last thing I would want to be even kind of close to, would be Santa Claus. This coming July (2017) will be my first as I think I will be doing a Christmas in July for the local food bank here in town. Then I will have everything on but I WILL want to be seen as Santa on Holiday in Northampton PA. I'd NEVER try to pull off the big guy without ALL MY TOYS with me to make it seem real!

  That's just me

Keeping it what I would call ......... ..... simple!
again I quote one of my best baseball couches
"Simple is easy and easy is FUN!"
I wouldn't want to be viewed ANY MORE NUTS than I ALREADY AM!  
Schwindy

Edited by Schwindy
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Santa MikeE
On 12/17/2016 at 7:15 AM, Chris Capstone said:

I think this has been mentioned on here before but I think many of these guys can't handle the attention. Many RBS guys have no background in theater or entertainment. Many are overweight middle aged guys who never had anyone pay attention to them their entire life. Then all of sudden they grow a beard and bingo! Instant "celebrity." They have never experienced anything like that before in their life. It becomes an addiction so they feel compelled to do the Santa 24/7/365 thing with all the casual wardrobe, red vehicle, etc. Whenever they are in public they are looking to get their "fix."

<snip>

I resemble that overweight, middle age guy with a beard who is thinking of becoming Santa.  Lord knows I wouldn't want to be "on stage" year round, and I certainly wouldn't want to wear a preponderance of red (aside from business wear, my attire tends toward black t-shirts and blue jeans).  While I enjoy playing Santa, I have plenty of other outlets to get the little attention that my psyche wants.  As for as the fellow on which this thread originally commented, I agree is is a little to self centered, and didn't use much common sense.

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JohnZ

I live in Central Florida and I frequent the Theme Parks.  When I do I NEVER wear red.

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PappaGaff

Aside from the common sense expressed here in the thread or the rules and regs of authorities, what also comes to mind is the plight of the Clowns...Pros now tainted by actual fools...and then there is the current penchant for SOME in the gen public to search for any opportunity to be 'offended' or cause an issue...STEALTH is a nice black T-shirt.

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Santa Johnathan

If this guy seriously thought this was okay, he's living in his own world. 

As soon as I consider my beard "white" in prep for the season, I start wearing red and other Christmas colors. My community knows me...and it's fun...I'm not screaming for attention but I enjoy the fun looks if I'm out. I do not approach children and do not seek places where families are gathered. The one day I wore a blue shirt, my students yelled at me for not wearing red. It's a bit of fun in the month of December to enjoy the Santa casual thing...but, I am NOT Santa, none of us are and I know this. I'm not going to jump on anyone for wearing Santa casual...but if you are doing that and going into Disneyland, Six Flags, or any other similar locale, you have lost your mind. As a parent, I'd be irritated. 

I would never think of walking into an amusment park and allowing someone to approach me for a photo and I cannot imagine having something ready to hand out. I cannot believe it took this long for him to be stopped.

At this point, my beard is now short and dark and my red is back in the closet until next season.

Even in a red shirt, if this guy had someone come up to him and politely said, "I'm sorry, I'm not Santa, I'm just a guest like you but wouldn't it be fun if I was." There would have been no problem. His ego and craving for attention had him begging for people to come up to him and I'm sure there were lots of "Ho, Ho, Ho's" and such.  

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Santa Marty

?

I had permission!

large.IMG_3095.JPG

large.IMG_3236.JPG

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Chris Capstone

Imagine a world where:

Clowns go out to eat or shopping in character acting silly and twisting balloons for people.

Jugglers go out to eat or shopping juggling items from the table or the produce section.

Magicians go out to eat or shopping accosting people with their decks of cards "Pick a card! Any card!"

Santa Claus actors go out to eat or shopping asking people if they've been good, Ho Ho Hoing and handing out candy canes....Oh wait...never mind. :santa_tongue:

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