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Found 143 results

  1. Star Wars Toy Sales Fall in 2017 as Movie-Tie Fatigue Sets In Bloomberg By Matthew Townsend and Christopher Palmeri January 17, 2018 EXCERPT: The warning signs for the toy industry started last year when “Cars 3” -- considered a surefire success -- proved lackluster for licensees like Mattel Inc. Now toymakers’ big bets on movie tie-ins look downright bleak. Playthings based on the “Star Wars” saga -- the franchise that kicked off the whole phenomenon four decades ago -- were down in 2017 despite a new film, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” in December during the all-important holiday-shopping season. Call it “Star Wars” burnout, or better yet “movie fatigue,” said Gerrick Johnson, an analyst for BMO Capital Markets. Hollywood and toymakers have fixated on toy-friendly films at a time when kids are increasingly turning to YouTube, Netflix and social media for entertainment. More than 20 major films, including “The Last Jedi,” had robust toy-licensing programs last year. A decade ago, it was about half that. Movie attendance in the U.S. has dropped almost 14 percent in that span. “There are so many screens now; kids aren’t just at the movies,” Johnson said. “A movie doesn’t have the same resonance it used to.” While “Star Wars” was still the top-selling toy line during the nine-week holiday period, it fell to second place overall last year and below the all-time high seen in 2016, according to data from market research firm NPD Group shared with Bloomberg News. “Star Wars is a force to be reckoned with in the toy industry,” the brand’s owner, Walt Disney Co., said in a statement. “It remains the leading film-driven property for the entire year.” Sequel Barrage After a decade without a “Star Wars” film, Disney has released three movies since December 2015, and another one is coming in May. The latest installment, “The Last Jedi,” didn’t include many new memorable characters beyond those introduced in the preceding film, Johnson said. That left fans looking for newness elsewhere this year, leading to weaker results than expected, he said. U.S. sales of the brand’s toys slowed in late 2017, Drew Crum, an analyst for Stifel Nicolaus & Co., wrote in a note to clients last week. This was despite “Last Jedi” being the top-grossing film released in the U.S. last year at $596 million. Adult collectors, who grew up with the brand, are still buying a lot of merchandise when the toys come out, but demand dies down afterward, according to Johnson. That doesn’t bode well for Hasbro Inc., which has the main “Star Wars” toy partnership, or Jakks Pacific Inc., which has a secondary license. Jakks said it couldn’t comment on “Star Wars” sales, but that merchandise tied to “Moana,” another Disney film, “remains very strong.” Hasbro declined to comment. The “Star Wars” performance could hinder Disney’s bid to revive growth at its consumer products division, where sales fell 13 percent to $4.83 billion for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. Dragged Down The September bankruptcy filing of Toys “R” Us Inc., which makes up about 15 percent of the market, added to the challenges for “Star Wars” sales growth this year, though the company continued to market the toys. Visitors to the Toys “R” Us store on Los Feliz Boulevard in Los Angeles recently had plenty of “Star Wars” merchandise to choose from. A whole aisle included everything from a $3.99 Millennium Falcon Hot Wheels car to a $250 AT-ACT remote-controlled vehicle that walks and fires Nerf projectiles. Tracey Gordon, a full-time mom from Glendale, California, shopping at the store, said her three boys, ages 2 to 7, aren’t “Star Wars” fans even though she wore a Princess Leia costume on Halloween for years when she was younger. “It’s a generational thing,” she said, adding that her nephew likes the toys largely because his dad “drags him to see the movies.” ... Even more toy-licensed films are scheduled, including the prequel “Solo: A Star Wars Story” and new Transformers, “Fantastic Beasts,” “Jurassic World” and superhero fare. The lesson toymakers will draw from the 2017 slate is that they can’t just rely on the movie to do the marketing anymore. “There is a new paradigm,” Johnson said. “Just because there is a movie with a toy tie-in doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to work. It used to mean it would work.” SOURCE: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-18/-star-wars-toy-sales-fall-in-2017-as-movie-tie-fatigue-sets-in
  2. Facebook Is Changing. What Does That Mean for Your News Feed? New York Times January 12, 2018 By JONAH ENGEL BROMWICH and MATTHEW HAAG Facebook has overhauled how it ranks the posts, videos and photos that appear in its users’ News Feeds, introducing major changes on Thursday designed to put what friends and family have to say first. In short, you’ll see more posts from friends that have spurred lively debates in the comments. And you’ll see fewer cooking videos from brands and publications. Prioritizing what your friends and family share is part of an effort by Facebook to help people spend time on the site in what it thinks is a more meaningful way. Facebook is making the changes by tinkering under the hood, reconfiguring its algorithms that guess what you may be most interested in. Here’s what it means for you. Publishers and brands are the losers. Facebook is not being coy about this: Those third-party organizations that took over large swaths of your News Feed years ago — sites that post funny pictures and memes, sell you clothing, or deliver articles about the world — will have the visibility of their posts scaled back under the new arrangement. In a post on the company’s blog Thursday, the head of its News Feed team, Adam Mosseri, wrote that showing more posts from friends and family “means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.” For many people, that news will come as a relief. In December, Facebook itself acknowledged that passive consumption of information — surfing shopping websites or reading news articles like this one — is often bad for your mood. (Sorry!) It gestured toward a 2015 paper in the Journal of Experimental Psychology that showed that passive usage of the website, even for just 10 minutes a day, had a negative effect on students’ sense of well-being. Those who still want to see posts from their favorite brands and trusted, wonderful publishers, one of whose articles you may be reading at this very moment, will be able to. The options under the News Feed tab on Facebook will allow users to prioritize the pages (and friends) whose posts they are most interested in. And Mr. Mosseri explained that other posts that your Facebook connections find engaging will also rise to the top. Conversations stemming from live videos, celebrities’ posts, private groups and other highly interactive post types will be among those highlighted on the new News Feed. Posts from people you know will rise to the top. Without that kind of explicit direction, though, Facebook’s top priority will remain posts from your friends and family. “To do this, we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed,” Mr. Mosseri wrote. A video attached to his post said that indicators the algorithm takes into account are likes, comments and shares. Facebook will remain customizable, with the options that allow you to limit your exposure to certain people — even if those people are your pesky siblings or that one over-the-top uncle. One option is to quietly “snooze” a Facebook friend, which will cause their posts to disappear from your feed for 30 days. Facebook says that it has long been its policy that “friends and family come first,” language that appeared in the site’s “News Feed Values,” which were posted in 2016. Facebook expects you’ll spend less time on the site. Implicit in the changes that Facebook introduced this week is that for many users, the News Feed had become mindless scrolling, moving from one autoplaying video to the next, without offering people much of substance. It was serving up junk food. In an interview with The New York Times, Mark Zuckerberg said that it was the company’s expectation that many users would be gravitating to other sites to get their viral fix. But with more than two billion monthly users, Facebook has gained a foothold that allows it to play a longer game. And Mr. Zuckerberg said that if people begin to feel better while on the site, that Facebook’s business, and its users, will benefit. “I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down,” he said in his post about the changes. “But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable.” SOURCE: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/12/technology/facebook-news-feed-changes.html
  3. 'Edmonton Project' finalist pitches plan for Christmas village January 12, 2018 CBC News Excerpt - Edmonton, Alberta - Christmas might be 347 days away, but Georgina Atkin has the holiday on her mind. Atkin wants to bring a longstanding European tradition to Edmonton by building Christmas or Advent villages during the holidays. Temporary holiday markets would bring the spirit of the season to the streets, Atkin said. The pop-up bazaars are a time-honoured tradition overseas. "They have markets set up where you can purchase all kinds of different items, from food to clothes to Christmas gifts," Atkin said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. "They also have kiosks where you can buy some hot cider and mulled wine and you get your cup and walk around the village, do some shopping, watch some the entertainment. "It's a great family outing. It is awesome." The festive proposal is one of 10 finalists for the Edmonton Project, a partnership of five companies looking to create a distinct landmark in the city. **** Atkin, a local nurse, said the city could repurpose its Green Shacks to create unique street-side spaces for vendors, who could deck out the buildings in holiday decor. Depending on the location, markets could also feature family skating or curling tournaments. There are plenty of places that would be a good fit for a market Atkin said, highlighting Churchill Square, the legislature grounds, the Muttart Conservatory and Whyte Avenue as possible locations. "As it grows, I would like to see it move out into different venues," she said. "And eventually, out in the communities, where each community league would have their own little Christmas village." SOURCE:
  4. Best Christmas in decade will still leave some retailer behind January 4, 2018 AdAge.com Excerpt - The good news for U.S. retailers is that the just-ended Christmas shopping season was probably the best one in a decade. The bad news? Some chains are still struggling to benefit from the industry's upswing. Consumer confidence is high, unemployment is low, and Americans are increasing spending -- with some third-party data showing holiday purchases up about 5 percent. But what Christmas 2017 may end up crystallizing is that a rising tide doesn't lift all boats. A few major retailers, including Amazon.com Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Home Depot Inc., are expected to reap an oversized share of the gains. For department-store chains and apparel sellers, it may be harder to please investors -- leading to more doomsday talk for the brick-and-mortar sector. "The money and the sales are gravitating toward fewer and fewer players," said Ken Perkins, president of research firm Retail Metrics Inc. "There are a lot of tailwinds behind these retailers, but they aren't generating a whole lot of profit growth." The uncertainties have kept Wall Street analysts from fully feeling the Christmas cheer. They estimate that retail earnings will rise a tepid 2.7 percent in the fourth quarter, according to Retail Metrics. The forecast has climbed half a percentage point over the past month, but it's still far from the 11 percent profit gain expected for the entire Standard & Poor's 500 Index. The question now is whether companies can exceed those low expectations. Macy's Inc. and J.C. Penney Co. saw their shares plunge last year, leaving room for upside if their holiday seasons were a pleasant surprise. **** Americans are still shying away from conspicuous consumption, according to Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president at Mastercard Inc., which tracks purchasing patterns. People are spending on their homes, because values are going up and they see it as an investment. They're also purchasing more experiences, like travel and activities, she said. "They don't overbuy," Quinlan said. People are avoiding "stuff they don't need." One variable is how much the recent tax overhaul figured into shoppers' decisions. Though the legislation might not have made a big difference for holiday consumers, it could help fuel retail spending in 2018 if Americans find more money in their paychecks, Johnson said. "These are all the ingredients for a sustained retail boom over the next year, and possibly into 2019," he said. SOURCE
  5. Tracking down a child letter writer — 87 years later Jan 4, 2018 by Dale Brumfield - News Leader Excerpt - What are the odds of finding a girl who wrote to Santa in 1930? We did, though. Not only is one of our history article subjects still alive but also she still lives here. Staunton woman Millicent Hall Brubek’s childhood letter to Santa Claus was published not once in the Staunton News Leader, but twice — and 87 years apart. “I was rather surprised to see it,” the 97-year-old retired psychiatric nurse says of finding her letter (first published Dec. 24, 1930) republished on Dec. 19, 2017, in the same paper in a feature on letters to Santa from the past. **** Like most children at the time, Millicent asked Santa for nuts, candy and oranges at Christmas, in addition to small, utilitarian articles, such as gloves and dishes. “I had a stocking but I don’t remember where I hung it, because the stove was in the middle of the tea room,” she says of her early Christmases at the inn. She pauses in thought. “That’s why I warned Santa [in the letter] to not come down the chimney!” Today the Tumble Inn is long gone and Millicent is surrounded in her Staunton home with childhood memories and memorabilia of her life there. SOURCE:
  6. Here’s how to cure your Christmas debt hangover January 2, 2018 Scott Terrio - Macleans Excerpt- It’s January, otherwise known as the month of holiday-spending regret. You know the feeling. Despite making a deal with your family—again—to stick to a scaled-down, old-fashioned Yuletide, you couldn’t resist. There were just too many Star Wars things! You’re not alone. The average Canadian adult spent an estimated $1,500 on Christmas in 2017. About 41 per cent of that was slated for gifts, with the rest going to holiday travel and entertainment, according to a report from PWC Canada. Other studies tell us that two-thirds of Canadians do not save a penny in preparation for their Christmas spending. So how did they do it? You guessed it: credit. Canadian households were already stretched before the holidays, with the pace of debt growth far outstripping wages over the last decade or so. And every holiday season many reach their debt limit. Licensed insolvency trustees typically see a big uptick in filings around the fourth week of January. That coincides with credit card bills rolling in to Canadian households. Call it the Great Christmas Reckoning. Having worked with around 4,000 clients over close to a decade, I have assembled an approach to getting excess holiday spending under control. **** So, if you overspent at Christmas, what can you do about it? Let’s talk holiday debt repair. Step 1: Assess the damage Step 2: Put your credit cards away Step 3: Make an austerity plan Step 4: Pay your debts first Step 5: Stay out of shopping zones Regardless of your situation, now is a good time to start putting aside some money for next Christmas, and avoid another post-Christmas debt hangover. SOURCE:
  7. Why do Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas Day on January 7 and how does the date differ across the world? January 3, 2018 by Josie Griffiths - The Sun Excerpt- IF YOU'RE gutted that Christmas is over, try not to feel too jealous of these Orthodox Christian countries - who haven't even celebrated yet. From Russia to Israel, scores of countries celebrate Jesus' birth in January. Here's why... Christmas is still to come for the Eastern Orthodox community, who will be celebrating on January 7 Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7 - which this year falls on a Sunday. The celebrations tend to begin at midnight on Christmas Eve, by which we mean January 6. It's all down to a difference in calendars. In the West we use the Catholic-created Gregorian calendar, which was introduced by Pope Gregory in 1582. But, in much of the Soviet bloc and Middle East, they still use the Julian calendar - which was created by Julius Caesar in 45 BC. Germany didn't accept the Gregorian calendar until 1775, and Bulgaria followed suit in 1917. There's a 13-day gap between the two calendars, meaning Christmas Day falls on what we now know as January 7. Nowadays, most Orthodox countries follow the Georgian calendar, but still observe religious holidays on the Julian dates. The Orthodox Epiphany, for example, is on January 19 - instead of the 6th. SOURCE:
  8. U.S. department store stocks jump on holiday spending record Reuters By Richa Naidu December 26, 2017 EXCERPT: CHICAGO (Reuters) - Shares of U.S. department stores jumped on Tuesday as Mastercard Inc said shoppers spent over $800 billion during the season, more than ever before, boosted by growing consumer confidence, rising employment and early discounts. Sarah Quinlan, head of market insights for Mastercard Advisors, disclosed the figure after the payments processor's analytics arm published its SpendingPulse retail report. The report said holiday sales in stores and online between Nov 1 and Dec 24 rose 4.9 percent, the fastest year-on-year pace of increase since 2011. Mastercard, which tracks spending by combining sales activity in its payments network with estimates of cash and other payment forms, excluded automobile sales from its figures. Most U.S. retail stocks have tumbled this year as they continued to lose sales to online stores, mainly Amazon.com Inc. Traditional players have also been hurt by heavy investments in technology and discounting, made to keep up with online and off-price competition. Shares in J.C. Penney Co Inc rose 7.6 percent on Tuesday, while Kohl's Corp shares were up 5.8 percent, Macy's Inc rose 5.1 percent and Nordstrom Inc increased 2.8 percent. SpendingPulse said the moderate sales increases seen in apparel and department stores were particularly impressive given this year's slew of store closures. Online sales rose 18.1 percent during the holiday season, thanks to a late rally in sales, according to Mastercard. "But that's probably only 11 or 12 percent of total retail sales ... the bulk of sales still is very much in stores," said Quinlan. "There's growth, don't get me wrong, but we still love that experience of being in store." The biggest winner of the holiday season was likely to be Amazon.com once again, however, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll conducted this month. Amazon.com said on Tuesday that it had topped its worldwide holiday sales record this year, with more than 4 million people opting to trial Amazon Prime in one week during the period. SOURCE: https://ca.news.yahoo.com/u-department-store-stocks-jump-holiday-spending-record-195126015--sector.html
  9. New Research Suggests Christmas Story of Visit by Wise Men Was ‘Historically True’ Breitbart News December 24, 2017 by Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D. EXCERPT: Despite attempts by modern biblical scholarship to debunk the gospel account of three magi visiting the newborn Jesus in Bethlehem, the stories were “historically true” according to extensive research by author Dwight Longenecker. In his new book, Mystery of the Magi: The Quest to Identify the Three Wise Men, Longenecker, a scholar and Catholic priest, states that an impartial study of the relevant data “shows beyond reasonable doubt” that the Magi of Matthew’s gospel were historical figures. For many years, Longenecker writes, skeptical scholars have rejected the possibility that the infancy stories about Jesus could be historical for a number of reasons, such as the fact that they contain supernatural elements. “The first problem with this is that the skeptic simply assumes supernatural experiences are impossible, therefore any story that contains supernatural elements must be a fanciful invention,” he notes. “In the early twentieth century, Bible scholars began to write off the stories of Jesus’ birth—especially the story of the wise men—as pious fantasies,” he continues. “They did so without considering if the stories might, at least, be rooted in real events.” ... SOURCE: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/12/24/new-research-suggests-christmas-story-of-visit-by-wise-men-was-historically-true/
  10. Santa Claus celebrates 13 years at Waldorf mall November 29, 2017 By Jamie Anfenson-Comeau - Maryland Independent Excerpt - “Look! It's Santa!” called out a little girl as a jolly man with a white beard and wearing a red coat descended the escalator at the St. Charles Towne Center Friday morning. These are the sort of moments the shopping center's Santa Claus said he looks forward to every year. He took a few moments to speak with the little girl before taking his place on a large green sofa and consenting to do an interview before a long day of greeting children. The management at St. Charles Towne Center requested that the red-clad gentleman be interviewed and quoted only as Santa Claus. This particular incarnation of the jolly old elf has been visiting the Waldorf shopping center for the past 13 years. The hardest part, Santa said, is when children come to him with requests that can't be fulfilled. “I've had them ask me to bring back their parents, because one of them had passed, and you can't do a thing. The only thing you can do is to tell them they're in a special place now,” Santa said. However, it is the joy on children's faces that keeps him coming back to St. Charles Towne Center year after year. “It's the kids,” Santa said. “You look at their faces when they see Santa Claus and they light up. It can be a bad day, but when they see Santa, it brightens their day up. It brightens mine too. I wouldn't be doing this as long as I have if I didn't like what I was doing. It's the kids, that's what it's about.” SOURCE
  11. Christmas has arrived for the Queen!

    Christmas has arrived for the Queen! Her Majesty has jaw-dropping 20 FOOT Nordmann Fir tree erected at Windsor Castle over a MONTH before the big day November 23, 2017 By MARTHA CLIFF - MAILONLINE Excerpt - Many of us will wait until advent kicks in before we begin our Christmas decorating, however, for the Queen Christmas has arrived early. Staff at her Majesty's Berkshire home have been busy decking the halls and trimming the trees in preparation for the festive period. As usual the centre piece is an enormous 20 foot Nordmann Fir tree taking pride of place in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle. The tree is sourced from the Queen's equivalent of the back garden having been cut from Windsor Great Park before being delivered to the castle. **** The Christmas decorations have become an annual attraction at the castle, which last year bedecked its rooms with an oriental theme with the tree decorated with Chinese lanterns. George's IV's mother Queen Charlotte famously decorated her home with yew, which used to be the traditional Christmas tree before fir trees were popularised by Prince Albert in the mid-19th century. A memoir of Queen Charlotte, published in 1819, recalls how ‘in the middle of the room stood an immense tub with a yew-tree placed in it.' It details how the branches were adorned with: 'bunches of sweetmeats, almonds, and raisins, fruits and toys, most tastefully arranged, and the whole illuminated by small wax candles’. While the Queen is expected spend time at Windsor Castle throughout December the royal does not traditionally spend Christmas at her Berkshire home. SOURCE
  12. Christmas comes early for Edmonton WestJet passengers en route to Abbotsford November 23,2017 by CLAIRE THEOBALD- Edmonton Journal Excerpt - Passengers flying to Abbotsford, B.C., from the Edmonton International Airport were treated to a gigantic Christmas surprise Thursday morning. Santa Claus, dressed in blue, was waiting outside of their gate with a more than three-metre-tall present. “I was hoping that maybe he was bringing us presents,” said Rebekah Esser. Passengers eagerly peeled away layers of wrapping paper — each one revealing a new gift, building in value from WestJet headphones and assorted gift cards — until the last pieces of paper were torn away to unveil a box filled with free flight vouchers for every passenger. **** The gigantic gift was delivered as part of WestJet’s 12 Flights of Christmas promotional campaign. “WestJet’s 12 Flights of Christmas is 12 days, 12 surprises in many different cities across Canada. We thought, what better way to lead into the holiday season than by surprising and delighting our Canadian guests?” said WestJet spokesperson Lauren Stewart. In all, around 120 people left the Edmonton International Airport with a free flight voucher from WestJet, just in time for the holidays. SOURCE
  13. More to being Santa Claus than Ho-Ho-Ho-ing November 22, 2017 by Kevin Griffin - Vancouver Sun Excerpt - According to Bill Marles, being a good Santa Claus means understanding body language — and keeping an eye on the parents. Marles, a professional Santa, said that is particularly important when he starts talking to a child sitting on his knee and asks: “Have you been a good boy or girl?’ Some say right away, ‘Yes of course.’ Others, ‘Most of the time.’” It’s the next question that takes skill in figuring out the psychological landscape: asking the child what they want for Christmas. “If they say ‘iPhone,’ I say, ‘Have you been really good?’ You also look at the parents.” At that point, Marles watches how they respond. Is it a nod yes or a shaken head no? Marles, 68, has been working as a Santa Claus for hire for the past four years. He is a graduate of Santa School in Calgary and has had a criminal record check by the RCMP. Not surprisingly, the next few weeks before Christmas is his busiest time of the year. He charges $200 for the first hour and $75 an hour after that. Of course, not all children are sweet and endearing. Some burst into tears the moment they sit on Santa’s lap. The sudden emotional outburst doesn’t surprise Marles. He acknowledges that it can be a little intimidating for a child to be placed on the lap of a stranger dressed in black boots and a big red coat and pants fringed with white. **** Marles, who worked as a courier for more than 20 years, started thinking about becoming a Santa during an acting class. In a session on typecasting, someone looked at him and said, “Santa Claus.” Marles said to be a good Santa means liking children and having an outgoing personality. If he is downtown in his Santa Claus outfit, it also means being good natured and going along with adults who maybe have had a few drinks and want to include him in selfies. The best part of being Santa Claus? The children. SOURCE
  14. Santa Claus Parade draws thousands in Toronto November 19,2017 by VICTORIA GIBSON - Toronto Star Excerpt - In the last few minutes before floats and trumpets soared down Bloor St. for Toronto’s 113th Santa Claus Parade, 4-year-old Keegan Cao meticulously took to the parade route with a single piece of blue chalk. “This is my mom, and that is me, that’s a truck,” Keegan explained, pointing to the scrawled image across a crack in the pavement. He was ready to see many “trucks” — floats, to be precise — in the parade. But the big draw was the big man himself. Santa Claus was coming to town. “He has Rudolphs!” Keegan chirped. His mom asked him if he knew where Santa was coming from. “North,” he said. She kissed his cheek, and they turned back to preparing for the parade to start. From the early hours of Sunday morning, thousands of Torontonians hunkered down on curbs, church steps, restaurant stoops and rooftops. The parade went nearly without a hitch, save for a suspicious package — which turned out to be a bag — that halted the event for a few minutes at Queen St. W. and University Ave. while Toronto police checked it. The magic for kids in the crowd came with careful crafting. As Santa breezed by, on a 42-foot float that ranks as the largest the parade has ever built, a man in a black hat on the pavement nipped in and out of the crowd, asking parents for their kids’ names. He’d call them, discreetly, up to Santa’s throne. Then — jolly and boisterous — Santa would call the names of kids below to their consistent delight. At one point, a gust of wind nearly whisked his hat onto the street. “Oh! The wind is picking up!” he told the crowd, in a moment of surprise before returning to character. “On Christmas Eve I’ll see you,” he told a gaggle of waving toddlers. “But you won’t see me!” SOURCE:
  15. Santa's Parade of Lights takes festive path down Jasper Ave November 19, 2017 by CATHERINE GRIWKOWSKY - Edmonton Journal Excerpt - Construction in the city centre didn’t keep crowds away from Santa’s Parade of Lights on Saturday. Rather than winding downtown, the parade took a straight route down Jasper Avenue. The tens of thousands lining the route mostly were excited for the man himself, Santa, to come down the street in a one-horse open sleigh. In their letter to Santa, Lexus wished for a toy horse and Teegan asked for “Maui”, a character from Disney’s Moana. “He writes back every year,” Lexus exclaimed. Volunteer Annette War was volunteering for the second year and, with hot chocolate in hand, was making sure letters got to Santa. “I’m excited about this one,” she said. SOURCE:
  16. Santa Claus is busted with a crack pipe November 15, 2017 by Rod Waugh - Metro UK Excerpt - In news that may dismay millions of children, a rosy-cheeked Santa Claus was busted with a crack pipe, along with empty bags of crack and heroin and a syringe. It’s the naughty list for you! The ‘bad Santa’, Charles Smith, 66, was actually in his Santa suit when he was pulled over by police on Route 46 in New Jersey, who found the alarming drug paraphernalia. Smith worked for Bergen County Toys for Tots, and spokesman Brian Murray said he is ‘no longer welcome back’. Murray said, ‘Once this came to light, he was fired. Contributor note*** This is same Santa and story posted earlier, just an update. SOURCE
  17. A $70,900 grant was given to Santa Claus Inc. to help kids in need throughout San Bernardino County November 14, 2017 by Highland Community News Excerpt - Santa Claus Inc. (SCI) is grateful to their partners at San Manuel Band of Mission Indians (San Manuel) for a generous grant. On Oct. 11, Faun White, who is the Program Officer of Education for the San Manuel Tribe, presented a $70,900 contribution to Tracylyn Sharrit, the Director of Development for SCI. The funds will support the mission of SCI, which is, “To provide critical services to youth in the Inland Empire by empowering families through year-round and seasonal programs.” Basic needs required by children in San Bernardino County continue to grow. In response to the increasing demand for services, SCI’s goal is to serve an estimated 120,000 children by the end of 2017 – an increase of 500% since 2012. The $70,900 from San Manuel is vital to ensure that SCI has the financial means to deliver on their mission and promise to meet their goals. **** SCI has been distributing hope through vital services to children since 1952. Children are served by referral from qualified partners throughout the Inland Empire: school districts, nonprofits, hospitals, law enforcement, and social service agencies within San Bernardino County. Referred children experiencing poverty imposed barriers are helped year-round. YES! programs provide free access to school supplies, clothing, shoes, hygiene items, bedding, emergency shelter, and much more. Christmas Distribution provides books, clothing, and toys to the meet the needs of impoverished youth. SOURCE:
  18. Santa Claus to meet special needs kids

    Santa Claus to meet special needs kids November 13, 2017 by wkbw staff Excerpt- CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WKBW) - Santa is setting aside time to meet with special needs kids! On Sunday, November 19th and Sunday December 3rd, Santa Claus will be at the Walden Galleria for the annual Santa Cares event. The event provides time for families with sensory concerns to visit St. Nick without the hustle and bustle of the holiday season during regular business hours. Cherry Hill Programs, who manage Santa's set, partners with Autism Speaks, Ability Path and Hasboro to create comfortable moments for guests with special needs. SOURCE:
  19. Sharing the Christmas season for half a century November 8, 2017 By Tim Meeks - Trentonian Excerpt - BELLEVILLE, Ontario - The spirit of Christmas is alive and well on the second floor of Century Village. And it’s all made possible by the incredible generosity of the residents of the Friendly City, says Pam Smith, co-ordinator for the Christmas Sharing Program. “The Christmas Sharing Program exists due to the generosity of this community and the need for this program is substantial and continues to grow on an annual basis,” said Smith. Now in its 50th year, the Christmas Sharing Program began helping Belleville families in need in 1967 when 354 families were assisted. Fast forward to last year and more than 1,300 families and individuals were registered for help. **** In addition to applying for a nutritious hamper of food, applicants with children under the age of 10 can also register their children for the Belleville Fire Fighters Toy Drive. As well, the Christmas Sharing office registers and helps to sponsor those who want to attend the Community Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day. This dinner is generously hosted by the Salvation Army and staffed by volunteers. Meals are also delivered to folks who are unable to attend the dinner due to health issues. And rides are available for anyone wanting to attend the dinner in the City of Belleville. “Last year we served 106 people at the Christmas dinner and also delivered 60 meals to shut-ins and people who couldn’t attend,” Smith said. SOURCE:
  20. Retiree who portrays Santa Claus now facing drug charges November 7, 2017 by WPXI.com Excerpt - SOUTH HACKENSACK, N.J. - A retiree who volunteers as a Santa Claus is facing drug charges alleging police found a crack pipe in his vehicle during a New Jersey traffic stop. South Hackensack police say 66-year-old Charles Smith, of Pompton Lakes, was arrested Monday after a traffic stop on Route 46. They say an officer saw the crack pipe next to a Santa Claus costume. Authorities say a subsequent search of the vehicle turned up more drug paraphernalia, including empty bags of crack and heroin alongside a hypodermic needle. SOURCE:
  21. Santa Claus is coming to (Old) town

    Santa Claus is coming to (Old) town November 8, 2017 by Erin Udell - The Coloradoan Excerpt - He's making a list. He's checking it twice. And he's coming to Fort Collins this month. Santa Claus will ride into Old Town and his Old Town Square workshop will be open on various days through Christmas Eve. His grand entrance into Old Town will be at noon on Nov. 18. He and his musical elves will arrive by horse-drawn carriage to the corner of Walnut and Linden streets. The public is welcomed to greet him at the event. Holiday costumes are encouraged. Visiting Santa at his Old Town Square workshop is free throughout the holiday season. Professional photos are optional and cost a fee. Santa is multilingual and knows sign language SOURCE:
  22. Garden City ‘Santa’ arrested, charged with child molestation FOX4KC November 6, 2017 by Megan Dillard EXCERPT: He was trusted by many and is part of many holiday memories for families in Garden City, Mo. Because the town population is less than 2,000 people, Garden City Chief of Police Thomas Alber said there's a real possibility 36-year-old Anthony Hall has come into contact with many children in the town. Officers arrested Hall Monday morning at his job at Auto Zone in Harrisonville. He's charged with child molestation. The victim is a six-year-old girl. Hall is known for dressing up like Santa Claus around the holidays and can be seen in photos on social media, even in a 2014 Christmas picture on the police department's Facebook page. Chief Alber said, "People with these tendencies gravitate toward areas where children are accessible and available. They’re tough cases; they’re cases that hit many people right in the heart." Investigators said when the girl told her mother, she told the victim not to tell and continued living in the same home as Hall. Court documents said both Hall and the victim's mother denied everything at first but changed their stories after they were shown illustrations the girl gave investigators. Chief Alber said besides the police department, other investigating agencies are involved, like the Missouri Department of Social Services. He said, "Children go through special interviews with specially trained forensic investigators." The chief said working the case took months, but Hall's arrest was timely. "Especially being the beginning of November where people would begin to book Christmas parties that might be employing this individual and allowing him access to more children," Alber said. With four daughters of his own, Chief Alber said he's glad a man facing these types of charges is off the streets. "When the child’s a victim, it’s especially difficult," Chief Alber said. "We take a great deal of time and care in investigating these cases." Hall admitted to investigators he's been accused in the past of inappropriate sexual contact with each of his own three children. SOURCE: http://fox4kc.com/2017/11/06/garden-city-santa-arrested-charged-with-child-molestation/ ### This is what we don't need! Every year we seem to get this and it does get old, I know what I would like to do to this guy! http://fox4kc.com/2017/11/06/garden-city-santa-arrested-charged-with-child-molestation/
  23. Hier lernen Weihnachtsmann & Co. (Here Learns Santa Claus & Co.) November 6, 2017 by BILD Translated via Google. Celle - In just over seven weeks time has come: Christmas! Clear that then the famous beard bearer may not be missing. But to be Santa Claus is really not child's play ... For a convincing performance at the Christmas market or on Christmas Eve, it takes more than a red costume and a sticky beard. Willi Dahmen (65) teaches participants how to behave properly as Santa Claus in his seminars. In Celle he dedicated 27 men and women from all over Europe to the high Christmas art. In the seminars, the participants learn that they are never allowed to drink or make phone calls in their missions. Dahmen also says how to behave in different families. Very important: the right costume! Thin felt, cotton wool? For a 5-euro wardrobe, there's the rod! Correct: red wool or velvet coat, beard at least of fine synthetic hair, white gloves, boots - never sneakers! SOURCE:(in German)
  24. The Original Santa Claus Parade brings wonder and joy to everyone November 2, 2017 Press Release -The Santa Claus Parade Press release: TORONTO, Nov. 2, 2017 /CNW/ - Today at his secret workshop, Santa Claus himself announced the exciting details of The Original Santa Claus Parade, including a new logo celebrating the parade's unique position as the first Santa Claus Parade in Canada. This year the parade will feature 25 floats and 21 marching bands, including a float celebrating Canada's appearance in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, Other floats will feature the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Raptors, as part of the continuing partnership with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. "All the world is happy when Santa Claus arrives," said Peter Beresford, Santa Claus Parade President and CEO. "We are excited to be celebrating the magic and happiness that Santa brings to the City of Toronto." This year's Parade will take place on Sunday, November 19 at 12:30 p.m., when children of all ages will line the streets waiting for a chance to see the jolly old elf himself. Now, in its fifth year, the Holly Jolly Fun Run, a 5km run, will kick off the parade starting at 11:45 a.m.on parade day. Last year there were over one thousand runners in attendance. The run will follow the Parade route and end at Maple Leaf Square. All proceeds raised will support the Santa Claus Parade. "I am so excited to see all the smiling faces along the parade route," said Santa Claus, who flew into town from the North Pole to offer a preview of this year's magic. "The parade celebrates this amazing season and brings happiness to everyone involved, from volunteers to celebrity clowns, but especially to the spectators. It's what the holidays are all about." The Parade starts at Bloor and Christie Streets; travels along Bloor Street to University Avenue, travel south on University Avenue to Wellington Street, then travels east on Wellington. This year the parade will head south on Yonge Street before heading east on Front Street, finally ending at the intersection of Front and Jarvis Streets at the St. Lawrence Market. The Original Santa Claus Parade airs Sunday, November 19 at 4:30 p.m. ET/PT on CTV and 5:30 p.m. AT on CTV and CTV GO. About the Santa Claus Parade The Santa Claus Parade is the largest children's parade in North America and the largest outdoor entertainment event held in Canadaevery year. More information on the Parade at thesantaclausparade.com About the Santa's Elves This year, a very special group of companies have stepped forward to make a long-term commitment and a substantial financial investment to ensure the Parade continues to bring smiles for years to come. Santa's Elves: McDonalds Canadian Tire Metro RBC CIBC Scotia Bank TD BMO Indigo MLSE SOURCE
  25. Christmas in the metro

    Christmas in the metro November 4, 2017 By: Ana Roa, Kathleen de Villa - Philippine Daily Inquirer Excerpt - Filipinos are big on Christmas. It’s probably one of the most celebrated holidays that kick off as early as September or, in local parlance, the so-called “-ber months.” Now that the Halloween decors are out, expect to see more of the bright, flashy lights, the colorful displays of tinsel, garlands, and the traditional parol (lanterns), as well as the “belen” and the Santas of varying shapes and sizes—all of which make for a highly festive atmosphere that Philippine Christmas celebrations are widely known for. Over the years, some areas—be it a household or a mall—have become crowd favorites given their plush, ornate holiday displays, which have since provided sightseers the perfect Instagram post. **** Policarpio Street, Mandaluyong The 700-meter street in Mandaluyong City has become an attraction every Christmas for its dazzling display of holiday decor using lights, lanterns, Santa figures and a majestic “belen” (Nativity scene). Rockwell Complex The lit silhouettes of Rockwell buildings have welcomed every Rockwell resident and traffic-weary motorists every Christmas as the lights have been a signature image during holidays. Ayala Triangle Gardens The 20,000-sqm garden becomes the venue of the annual lights-and-sounds show dubbed “Festival of Lights” every Chrismtas season. Miniature “Christmas village” Fashion businessman and landscape artist Rene Tiongco sets up in his house in Malate, Manila every December a miniature “Christmas village.” The village is complete with snow-covered hills, quaint houses, children building snowmen and a choir tirelessly belting out “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing” in the town square. SOURCE
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