SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) — Call it San Francisco’s version of the classic Christmas-time film, “Miracle on 34th Street.”

Santa Claus was fired from the Macy’s store in San Francisco’s Union Square for being a bit too jolly, but he has now been hired by a famed restaurant and lounge – also along Union Square – to play Santa as part of the San Francisco Fire Department’s annual toy drive.

John Toomey, who played Santa at Macy’s Union Square store for 20 years, was told that his “ho-ho-hoeing” days at the department store were over because an elderly couple complained about his jokes.

Toomey was profiled a few years ago by KPIX-TV CBS 5’s Mike Sugerman. (Watch below)

But late Tuesday, Lefty O’Douls owner Nick Bouvis said he had hired Toomey and would pay him more than Macy’s did to help in the effort to collect 10,000 toys by Christmas day for the SFFD.

Bouvis said he was building a special throne for Santa John at his Geary Street establishment.

The 68-year-old Toomey said he was fired because he had asked older people who sat on his lap at Macy’s if they had been good. When they answered yes, he replied: “Gee, that’s too bad.”

If they asked why Santa was so jolly, Toomey said it was because he knew where all the naughty boys and girls lived.

Toomey said the jokes are ones he has told for decades without any problems, and he emphasized that he didn’t make such jokes with kids.

“Everything was going OK until this couple came in. I don’t know why they reported me. I don’t think I said anything untoward,” Toomey said.

He said he had asked Macy’s to reconsider their decision to terminate his employment, but apparently to no avail.

Macy’s spokeswoman Betsy Nelson said Tuesday that the store wouldn’t comment on personnel matters.

A number of Toomey’s co-workers at Macy’s said they were devastated by Santa John’s firing.

Santa John’s supporters were utilizing Facebook to rally support for him, which apparently resulted in the job offer from Lefty O’Douls.

“He’s totally the best Santa ever, very jolly and very authentic. “I’ve been coming to see him for years. There’s just nobody better,” said Sharon Owens, 56, of Oakland.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (68)
  1. James Smith says:

    You Have got to be kidding ! 20 years, and one uptight couple complained. I could see if this was his first week even second year. but 20 years. I will never shop Macy’s store again till they hire him back! I don’t care who they get for the commercials. I didn’t know they operated like that especially so close to the Holidays

    1. C. Wynkoop says:

      WHAT! can’t even beleived I read this. For the people that heard what? get a life.And for Macy’s you should be a shammed for firing Santa really!!

    2. Elizabeth says:

      I agree! Hire him back! I’ve sat on his lap with a friend and he was funny and never out of line…he is age appropriate. Shame on Macy’s!!!! Bad for business to fire Santa!

  2. Sandra Huebner says:

    I think a warning would have been more appropriate…since obviously they have been satisfied with him for over 20 years. Are we not allowed an error in judgement ever once in a while?

  3. champressed says:

    Did they ever give this poor ole chapp a warning? . i mean to say, perhaps the majority of adults who sat with Santa liked his Jokes.

    sorry Santa : (

  4. Bloodhounds says:

    It’s probably age discrimination.He’s 68 and Macy’s can use this as an excuse to get rid of him. I bet you there wasn’t even a complaint.

  5. Joy says:

    Come on Macy’s you are my favorite store; this fellow has been with you for 20 years that should count for something; please give him another chance.

    Thank you

    1. Fred says:

      Joy, 68 year old men are called “man” not fellows. Call any of you babes anything but “woman” and you go totally midol.Fred

      1. lynda says:

        kinda losing the whole line of the story here hey ol’ fellow? This really isn’t about you and your obvious problems with women. Let’s keep on tract of Santa John’s future lawsuit , well deserved and certainly forthcoming

      2. McD says:

        Back off Fred…….we know you are perfect so why don’t you go walk on some water somewhere??? Get a life and leave Joy alone…Merry Christmas, fella

  6. Rope says:

    This is not news.

  7. NT Christensen says:

    Why are adults sitting on Santa’s lap anyway????

    1. Keith Kemp says:

      Because we need too 🙂

    2. jonni says:

      Yeah, I was wondering the same thing. And if they really feel the urge to sit on Santa’s lap why in the world can’t they take a cute, age appropriate joke???

  8. Will Davis says:

    No Macy’s for my family this year.

    I won’t shop in a store that says Christmas but doesn’t mean it.

  9. popo says:

    You fire Santa after 20 years and we won’t shop at Macy’s anymore!
    Those adults are creepy!

  10. oscar the grouch says:

    Macy’s should check out some of their other employees. Transvestites in the Cosmetics in SF making rude comments and using filthy face brushes on you.
    Santa is the least of their worries.
    Hire an elf to stand with him if you don’t trust him.

  11. LINNEA says:




    1. LINNEA says:


  12. hohoho says:

    Macys should be ashamed of themselves. I’m shopping at Nordstrom!

  13. Marie says:

    Macy’s, shame on you. After 20 years on the job, a verbal reprimand should have sufficed unless Mr. Toomey has a history of customer complaints. What are you waiting for a wrongful termination suit? Macy’s, if you really want to discharge employees for improper and indecent comments, you should send a mystery shopper to listen in on the year round conversations your regular employees have within hearing distance of your customers about their personal lives and sexual encounters.

  14. Life is Funny says:

    To the couple that complained about his jokes: Get a Damn Sense of Humor you uptight weasels !

    1. s says:

      life is funny- exactly! and if they don’t like the jokes then don’t sit on santa’s lap. i think the jokes are to be somewhat expected when an adult sits on santa’s lap.

  15. tickle says:

    Probably a couple of teabag scrooges from out of state!

    1. Alex says:

      Nope, that’s the liberal wacko way, probably a couple from berkely!

      1. r says:

        actually uptight, stupidly-conservative-about-sex people can be from any political party so maybe you two should keep politics out of this. i highly doubt it had anything to do with the situation. the couple who complained were uptight scrooges no matter what their political views are. you’d think if they were game enough to sit on santa’s lap, then they would be able to take a naughty joke.

  16. Lowell Anderson says:

    This is a real good reason not to shop macy’s.

  17. Mike Shannon says:

    Idiots, bit the complaining coupe and Macy’s management should hang their heads in shame. My dollars will go elsewhere this year.

  18. Tom says:

    Good for you Santa! If you know where the naughty boys and girls live, you save time as they get no presents! Now I do not have to shop at Macy’s because I know where Scrooge lives!

  19. Vicki says:

    I am appalled that you would let some stuffy people from the bay area make your decision for you , and why is she sitting on santas lap anyway.
    Get real santa is for the kids

  20. Dara says:

    This was our Santa. The one that I’ve taken my kids to every single year since they were born. He is fantastic, just the best, and I am so saddened that Macy’s would fire him over something so ridiculous.

  21. Tracy C says:

    Macy = Scrooge + Grinch. May Macy’s HR be visited by 3 ghosts.

  22. oscar says:

    Macy hires obnoxious transvestites in their cosmetics, since when are they picky about employees?

  23. Irate Macy Customer says:

    I’ve seen this particular Santa for many years at Macy’s and he’s always been a top-notch Santa in my opinion! I, for one, am going to BOYCOTT Macy’s and will cut up my Macy’s card if they don’t hire him back. I urge other DISSATISFIED Macy’s customers to do the same!

  24. Leonard says:

    No Santa no Macy’s,Boycott Macy’s until they come to there senses. This is Christmas Where is the spirit?

  25. Luisa says:

    Macy’s Blew IT!

    Studpid little boss man in New York for be so anal. They’ll be sorry because I don’t think this is going to blow away anytime soon. I refuse to shop at such an establishment until they bring John back. Macy’s thought it was doing a good PR move, but it’s backfiring already. I refuse to shop at Macy’s until they rehire their loyal santa plus give him a bonus, raise and a very humbling apology to their customers.

  26. martin says:

    Macy’s blew it for sure. They could have handled this so much better.
    Now all they’re going to have is negative publicity for something as lame as a bad joke. Well, if they have reduced sales this year, they deserve it. I

  27. Fredly says:

    I am closing my account with Macys
    Shame on them for treating Sants this way
    This couple should get lumps of coal in their stockings
    for Christmas.

  28. yohan says:

    one couple complains and someone gets fired. coporation are too sensitive these days and need to lighten up. sounds to me like there was management person who was looking to dismiss.

  29. Jim says:

    Macy’s is the one who’s naughty. I’m closing my account out and will no longer shop there. The couple that made the complaint against Santa was probably some rich snobs.

  30. jsim says:

    Macy’s will take a huge hit for this one. In times like these, it’s time for the stores to be passionate. To hell with Macy’s. I’ll never shop in that store again

  31. Irate Macy Customer says:

    I want to know the names of the two scrooges who COMPLAINED to macy’s and send them a piece of my mind! Someone needs to find out their names and let the rest of us know! Surely SOMEONE out there can find out?

  32. NOMOE MACYS says:


  33. Lynn says:

    to the maycs executives and HR people.
    you just set yourself up for a wrongfull termination lawsuit and also possible age discrimiation lawsuit as well. you can not just fire a person without going thru the proper process.
    give written warning-3 times-and allow the person time to improve, then if fails, then you fire……
    you HR directors and managers should know about this
    shame on you Macys!!!

  34. Adrian says:

    This is another individual who won’t be shopping at Macy’s this holiday season…one complaint in 20 years and he gets fired? Seriously? Macy’s, you’re fired.

  35. Brenda Eldridge says:

    Santa, please sue Macy’s!

  36. Bin Laden says:

    Long live Santa!

  37. Martin L says:

    no macy’s for me this year. their customer service is bad enough, you’d think they couldn’t make it any worse, then they do.

  38. john turner says:

    Macy’s – really – LAME! Good reason to take my business elsewhere…

  39. carl says:

    I’d have told the couple to stop sniveling and take their business elsewhere. Of course I’d be fired too. I think I’ll respond by doing my own personal boycott of macy’s It will be a LONG time before I shop there.

  40. McD says:

    I hope you get a lump of coal in your stocking Betsy, you must really be the life of the party, firing Santa Clause, Merry Christmas, you sure ruined it for a lot of us customers (and my four grandsons who came all the way from Oregon to see Santa Clause in a big city store). You must be a real life SCROOGE!!!!!

  41. Mark Leach says:

    Leave it to a couple of Republicans! Just say no! Ruin Christmas for all, for the sadistic enjoyment of two! i’ll bet they high fived each other all the way home to Orange County!

  42. shana says:

    Santa Claus is for children, this woman had no place sitting on his lap in the first place. That’s what she has a husband for ! Macys’s should be ashamed for their decision…

  43. Patty Tanco says:

    Really get a life, the people that complained should really look at themselves-deep inside to see what is making them unhappy. They are the Grinch……

  44. GB says:

    OMG Macy’s is having a SALE!! From the retailer who sends more junk mail on a daily basis, not only is the RAINFOREST at risk but now your customer base. I tore up my card this AM, and my wife is returning some recent gift purchases. Elderly couples should let their grandchildren sit on Santa’s lap…

  45. robin says:

    Goodbye macy’s Hello Lefty’s. Stop telling them to give this man his job back. He is making double what he made at Macy’s weren’t you listening? I will never shop at Macy’s again! He woud be a fool to go back to Macy’s. Grown ass woman making complaints about a stupid joke. Get a life!

  46. Donna says:

    About 10 years ago I had the very funny and laugh out loud experience of sitting on Santa’s lap at Macy’s Union Square Store. Must have been the same Santa! I certainly was not offended and to this day the memory makes me smile. I’ve told my story to lots of people and still have my button which says I sat on Santa’s lap!! Too bad Macy’s caved in to one complaint. I do wonder if they are that responsive to customer service related issues??

  47. eric says:

    Macy’s management only care about “Macy’s cards”!!
    they don’t care about Santa
    they don’t care about their associates…”
    shame on them!!!

  48. Fred Trujillo says:

    Shame on you Macy’s. You should be ashamed of yourself. I’m taking my shopping elsewhere. So There, Take That.

  49. jerry Greenstyein says:

    Macys should know better. Do they understand about public relations. Shame on you Macys

  50. P. Richards says:

    I’m just throwing the Macy’s ads out now. Too bad they fired Santa. Maybe next, they will hold an Easter Bunny cook-off!!!

  51. Pam says:

    We’re so sad!!! We loved Santa John!!! A pic of my GKids w/ him is up year round. Someone in Hollywood should hire him to play himself in his own true story of ‘Miracle on (Union Square)’ & pay him lots of money for it.

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