As in the past, the event was supposed to cap off a year’s worth of celebrations that made use of the town’s idyllic waterside location: Santa would arrive by boat with Frosty the “Chief Snowman” and march to a nearby grotto to greet children.
“Entry to the grotto is free and each child receives a gift,” organizers promised.
The children received something memorable, all right.
The trouble started after smoke from a nearby “family rave” triggered an alarm, organizers later explained in an apology. (It’s not totally clear what the family rave was, but it may have been something like this.)
Santa, who was upstairs in his grotto, “immediately assisted in the evacuation of the building,” organizers added.
But he apparently didn’t keep his cool while doing so.
“He came [charging] in, ripped his hat and beard off in front of 50 odd kids and started shouting and swearing at people to leave,” an attendee named Adam Gaynor said in a social media post, according to the Telegraph. “You should be ashamed of yourself acting like that in front of children. There is no way he should be allowed near a child."
Parents were not pleased that the festival’s Santa broke character and, according to several attendees,
wigged bearded out.
One mother said she had to come up with an explanation on the spot for her confused children after Santa used “the most vile language,” according to Cambridgeshire Live.
"My friend’s little boy was upset as his dad was carrying him when Santa told them ‘to get the [expletive] out,’ " she told the news site. “We told our children he wasn’t the real Santa. He was an impostor and will be going on the naughty list.”
Organizers apologized later for “any offense or distress caused to parents and children.”
They did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday morning.
It’s unclear whether the bad Santa will be returning for the final weekend of “Santa’s Grotto,” which will end on Sunday.