Santa Claus was fired from a mall before Christmas after management received complaints that he had been seen wearing a MAGA [Make America Great Again] hat in support of President Donald Trump.
Frank Skinner said he put the cap on for a quick photo near the end of the evening at Waycross Mall in Georgia when there were no children around.
He then shared the photo on his personal Facebook page. “It really was an innocent thing. It really was,” he told First Coast News.
In a Facebook posting, Skinner explained, “It was about time to close at the mall for Santa Claus. There were no children around and on a whim, I decided to switch hats and pose with a President Trump hat. For fun, I took the picture for personal use, with my personal phone.”
He then explained that—just for fun—he posted the photo on his personal Facebook page, as he has many friends and family who support the president.
“I knew they would enjoy the photo and get a laugh. Obviously, that turned out to be poor judgment on my part. I didn’t anticipate how upsetting that would be to some members of our community. For that, I’m deeply saddened and apologize. Unfortunately, after posting the photo someone went to my personal Facebook page and took a screenshot to use and report,” he explained.
The statement Skinner received from the mall said he would be replaced, and from that point on, everything became a big controversy.
When he spoke to the mall’s management, they informed him that he would be removed for a few days.
He then read the statement made by the mall management and deduced that he had actually been fired because of the hat issue.
The mall apparently announced his dismissal in response to receiving the photo via social media: “We apologize for this occurrence and will be addressing this right away,” wrote mall manager James White in response to a social media complaint.
“The Mall at Waycross does not support any specific political party. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Kindly, Mall Management,” explained the mall.
“This particular Santa has been replaced,” it added.
Skinner humbly declared to First Coast News that he meant to cause no one any discomfort. “At the time I thought it was harmless fun. Now I realize in this day and age that I should not have posted it,” he said.
“Obviously it did offend some folks. I can assure everyone that was not my intent. I have learned a lot from this. Going forward I will keep this in mind,” he added.
Meanwhile, many Internet users considered the reaction of the mall to be exaggerated and excessive.