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Friday, December 2, 2011

Santagate: Macy's is on Portland Santa's Naughty List

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Fri, Dec 2, 2011 at 4:46 PM

Portlands Santa Phil: Displaced, displeased.
  • Portland's Santa Phil: Displaced, displeased.
The Santas who have run the Santaland at Portland's Meier and Frank, then Macy's, for nearly three decades are adding a big name to their naughty list: Macy's.

The Portland Santa company has been contracted to do the whole elf, snow, wish list rigamarole at Portland's downtown department store for 28 years, according to owner Joe Hawes. But this summer, the team got a call that Macy's across the country would be switching to an East Coast vendor to run and staff their Santalands. Sorry, Portland Santas, y'all are booted.

Worse, says Hawes, the other vendor is hiring Santas with costume beards.

"The style they do is a charicature of Santa," says Hawes, whose company's two bearded Santas have been working Christmas in Portland for 12 and eight years, respectively. "We’ve always had naturally bearded santas who play the role of Santa for year after year. The experience is dramatically different. The children come in and identify with an indivudual rather than a costumed character."

Instead of giving up Santaland, though, Portland's veteran Santas are setting up shop right around the corner at a their own rival Santaland in Pioneer Square. They're relocating all the parts of their traditional Macy's display to the Square starting December 14th.

I left a message with Macy's spokesperson seeking comment. The response on Portland Santa's Facebook page, meanwhile, has been one of shock and horror.

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