WAYCROSS, Ga. – Apparently a lot of people think Santa should stay out of politics.
A Waycross man admits now it wasn’t a smart move to pose for a photo with a Trump hat on while wearing his Santa suit.
Frank Skinner, who said he has entertained children by dressing as Santa for five decades, said he didn’t wear the hat while greeting holiday visitors during his seasonal job at the Waycross mall. Skinner posted on his Facebook page that it was closing time at the mall and there were no children around at the time.
“For fun, I took the picture for personal use with my personal phone. Later, for laughs, I posted it on my personal Facebook page,” Skinner wrote. “I certainly was not trying to create a firestorm by doing that but simply intended to post the photo on my page for a little humor, as I have many friends & family who, like me, support our 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.”
But because of the controversy created when the photo of him wearing the campaign hat went viral, mall management told news outlets Skinner would be temporarily replaced, which was reported as Skinner being fired.
Mall management didn’t return a call from News4Jax on Thursday, but Skinner said he was told, “What I need to do is to lay low for a while and stay gone for a few days. Let’s see if we can get this thing worked out.”
Skinner said a GoFundMe page set up for him after the controversy blew up was well-meaning, but it was done without his knowledge or approval.
“I have no problem returning the money to anyone who contributed. This is not about the money, I can assure you of that. If anyone wishes to have their contribution returned, please contact me, and I’m willing to return it. I would never take advantage of anyone’s kindness in our community," Skinner wrote. “I have always done my best to be the finest Santa I could be. People who know me know my character. They know that I don’t take my role lightly. When a child comes to me, I sing, dance and yes, even pray with them if they have a prayer need. I have been blessed to pray for many. I feel like God has chosen me for this role and have had many testimonies as I look back. One day I hope to share all these special stories.”
Skinner told News4Jax that he agrees with the critics that you shouldn’t mix Santa and politics, adding that he didn’t intend to offend anyone.
“That’s just not me,” he said. “All I can say is, let’s let this thing die down. Let’s get down to the basics. It’s the Christmas season, and the real reason for the season is not about Santa, it’s all about Christ.”