NUNEHAM COURTENAY, Northern Ireland, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- A Santa in Northern Ireland was suspended for telling children seeking his counsel about the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Parents Wendy and Steven Kennett complained to management at Notcutts Garden Centre in Nuneham Courtenay, Oxford, after the man playing Santa allegedly spoke to three young siblings raising the specter of the school shootings before the parents could step in and interrupt him, the Belfast Telegraph said Thursday.
One of the children asked Santa about whether they were on the naughty list. The man replied, "Well there are bad people in the world and bad things happen, like what happened to those children in America."
The man then told one of the children Santa isn't real and that it's his parents putting presents under the tree.
Kennett said one of his sons ran away crying and told his brother and sister, which is when management was brought in. The children's mother said she was left with youngsters in a "flood of tears."
Managers at the garden center described the man as a "freelance" Santa and said he'd been suspended for the remainder of the Christmas season.
Popcorn maker on fritz, theater evacuated
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Moviegoers shouted "fire" in a crowded Los Angeles theater when a popcorn maker overheated and briefly shot off flames.
A spokeswoman ArcLight Hollywood said the machine's malfunction left more than just the unmistakable odor of burnt popcorn in the air. About 2,000 moviegoers were evacuated from the multiplex for 30 minutes around 7 p.m. Wednesday while firefighters investigated, the Los Angeles Times said.
The machine gave off flames briefly before an alert patron took a fire extinguisher to the small blaze.
No injuries were reported.
Megamall planned in village of four people
LANGFLON, Sweden, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Four ambitious villagers in Sweden -- the only four residents in town -- say they are building a mega-mall.
The only four people who live in the tiny village of Langflon, Sweden, located on the border with Norway, already operate a grocery store that attracts their Norwegian neighbors in droves.
The grocery store, which employs 20 people -- four times the number of residents in Langflon -- led the entrepreneurs to think bigger, TheLocal.se said Wednesday.
"Of course it is crazy. I'm sure there's not a mall like it in such a tiny village anywhere in the world," developer Morten Johanen said.
Norwegian shoppers cross the border to take advantage of the currency exchange rate. Shoppers at the mid-sized grocery store said they would definitely shop at a mall if the villagers built it.
"It will be super," predicted Norwegian shoppers Gerd and Bertil Braten. "We save so much money on food here in Sweden. But what us Norwegians really want is for them to start selling alcohol."
Dogs chase burglar after presents
GAINSVILLE, Fla., Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Score one for man's best friend: Barking dogs chased a would-be robber targeting Christmas gifts out of a Florida home, police said.
Timothy Devon Lawrence, 36, of Gainsville, Fla., broke into a home around 3 a.m. as the homeowners were asleep upstairs and was allegedly ready to boost some 18 packages, police said. That's when the victim's alert pooches awoke and began barking, the Gainsville (Fla.) Sun said Wednesday. When the victim opened her bedroom door, the dogs raced downstairs and chased Lawrence out of the house.
The woman called police who used canines of their own to track the suspect to a nearby residence where Lawrence had also tried to break in, officers said. He allegedly was found hiding in nearby bushes and charged with burglary, grand theft and possession of a concealed firearm, police said.