Over the past 15 years, Scott Diethorne has worked as a Pennsylvania town's favorite Santa Claus. For no extra charge, he'd flip your kid upside down, pose with your pets, and flash the "Naughty" and "Nice" tattoos inked along his forearms for the camera. But this year, he's been asked to tone down his act—and a horde of his loyal customers are outraged.
Philly.com reports that the company managing the Santas at the local mall where Diethorne works told him he couldn't show off his tattoos or fling any toddlers onto his shoulders this season—traditional photos only. It's not clear what prompted the change, but the company, Cherry Hill Programs, explained in a statement that it's "dedicated to preserving the tradition and image of Santa with authentic holiday visits."
After hearing the company was trying to crack down on Diethorne, Amanda Nagy, a diehard Santa Scott fan, took to Facebook to round up some support for him.
"This new photo company won’t allow him to show his tattoos anymore, do fun poses, etc!" she wrote. "If you guys know him, you know this is all of the stuff he is known for—bring our Santa back!!!"
Her post was shared more than 400 times by folks who have come to visit Santa Scott over the years in Pennsylvania's Middletown Township, about an hour outside Philadelphia.
"Seriously?!" one fan wrote. "I swear I will protest. This is ridiculous my kids love going every year just because he's so awesome! No fair. This photo company FUCKING SUCKS."
Some called the prohibition on Santa Scott's nontraditional antics "very sad," "none sense," and "insane!" Others penned touching tributes to Diethorne about the visits they've paid him over the years.
"He is the very best why would you want to mess with the best Santa in our area!" one woman wrote. "Leave our Santa Scott alone let him continue to bring the magic of the holiday as he has done every year!"
Though some folks have threatened to abandon taking a photo with Santa Scott altogether this year, Nagy has encouraged his fans to keep paying him a visit, tattoos or no. She also recommended they check out a local photography studio he's partnered with, where he'll be up to all his old shenanigans.
"Please do not boycott photos with Santa Scott altogether," Nagy wrote. "We still want him to have work."
Santa Scott himself has stayed tight-lipped on the controversy. His daughter, Megan Greene, said that he doesn't want anything to ruin his hard-earned Santa career. She told VICE that even with hidden tattoos and toned-down theatrics, her father is still the same Santa Scott the community has grown to love.
"My father's tattoos and silly poses can be censored," Greene said. "But his big heart, love for others, and his joy in being Santa Claus will always set him aside from the others."
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