Mall Santa miffed over picture-takers

Dec. 16, 2008 at 11:18 AM
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EDMONTON, Alberta, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- A Canadian professional Santa Claus at an Edmonton shopping mall claims parents who snap pictures of their children on his lap instead of paying are stealing.

Lyle Young told the Edmonton Sun a service that offers instant prints contracted by the Mill Woods Town Center mall charges only $14, and parents who want pictures should respect the business.

"What message are you sending your children; 'Look Tommy and Sally, see what your parents stole you for Christmas,'" Young said. "This is a private enterprise and these people do this to make a living ... it's really not that expensive."

He said it's free for a child to sit on his lap and talk about presents and wishes, but he doesn't hesitate to ask mall security to stop parents from taking pictures with cell phones and digital cameras. That's led to some people using "four-letter words" and having "tantrums" when asked to stop taking pictures, Young said.

Mall Operations Manager Amos Haggett said the commission the mall makes from photos isn't significant, and he would consider paying a Santa to offer free photo opportunities.

"I'm a grandfather, and if my grandson was on Santa's lap, I'd take a picture," he said.

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