Twenty-two AIDS activists dressed in Santa Claus costumes chained themselves together inside Macy's in New York yesterday to protest the store's refusal to rehire a store Santa who has the virus that causes AIDS.
Meanwhile, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Jacqueline Silbermann denied former Macy's Santa Mark Woodley's request for an injunction that would have forced the store to rehire him pending the outcome of his $3.25 million discrimination suit. But she also denied Macy's motion that the suit be dismissed.
Department store management said the decision against rehiring Woodley as a Santa this year was based on medical advice. The store also said Woodley had rejected a supervisory job at a higher salary.
Nineteen people were charged with resisting arrest in the protest on the busiest shopping day of the year, said a police spokeswoman. Eighteen of them also were charged with criminal trespass.
"Macy's is playing Scrooge by firing one of their most popular Santas. AIDS discrimination violates the spirit of Christmas and we will not tolerate it at all," said ACT-UP protester Jon Winkelman.
But Macy's issued a statement saying: "Mr. Woodley was not offered a position ... because of the specific type of medication he was taking and the advice of our medical expert." Woodley, who said he needed the job as "an incentive to stay healthy," had been taking the anti-AIDS drug AZT and the controversial antidepressant Prozac.
The Quayles Help Out
Vice President Quayle and his family lent a helping hand on Thanksgiving at the First Presbyterian Church in Wickenburg, Ariz. The Quayles, who are spending the holiday weekend at the vice president's parents' vacation home in the town of 5,000, called the church a half-hour before the noon meal offering to help. Dan, Marilyn and their children, Tucker, 17, Ben, 15, and Corinne, 13, served about 100 people, according to the Rev. Jim Longstreet. One of the diners, Mary Creegan, said, "It's nice to see the bigwigs come down and share with the people. It reminds them they're just like everybody else."
Voight's 'Conrack' Reunion
The people who played actor Jon Voight's students in the movie "Conrack" 18 years ago said they weren't surprised to learn he thought it was time for a reunion. "He really cared about us," said Margaret Perry Collier, now a hospital administrator in Augusta, Ga. "Every day on the set, he showed us in his interactions that he cared." The group got together Thursday for a Thanksgiving reunion, and Voight said he was as eager as the rest to renew old friendships. The 1973 film is about a young white teacher and his black students at an isolated school on an island off South Carolina.
Thousands Honor Ashcroft
London's Westminster Abbey was filled with more than 2,000 friends and colleagues of the late Dame Peggy Ashcroft yesterday for a memorial service for the Oscar-winning actress, who died in June at the age of 83. Reading tributes to the legendary Shakespearean actress were Sir John Gielgud, Ben Kingsley, Dame Judi Dench and Harold Pinter. Prince Edward, Queen Elizabeth's youngest son, was among those in attendance. Said theater director Sir Peter Hall: "She would fear that it was slightly pompous but she would be moved and encouraged that so many friends who believe in the theater are here to try to carry on her beliefs and passions."
Concert for African Children
B.B. King, Dionne Warwick, Natalie Cole and Miriam Makeba are among the scheduled performers at a three-day music festival and seminar in Nigeria that began yesterday and was organized to support the Children of Africa Foundation. African National Congress President Nelson Mandela and his wife, Winnie, are expected as guests of honor. Faith Isiakpere, vice president of Children of Africa, said he hopes to raise millions of dollars through the sale of broadcast rights, money that would be distributed to "a lot of individual organizations that are doing a lot of good work." Foundation President Onwuka Kalu, a Nigerian industrialist, says the foundation hopes to build schools, increase vaccinations and provide safe drinking water.