Mom complains about Manchester Santa who she says was smoking

A mother has said her daughter was left traumatized by a ‘bad Santa’ who was caught smoking in public and spitting his words out during a meet and greet with children.

Charli Lewis, 26, said she felt ‘let down’ by the celebratory experience at a kids’ club in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, which had left little Layla, 6, with ‘many questions’.

Her concerns were first brought to the fore when she arrived at the venue and the Santa impersonator “smoked a cigarette” in full view of children.

Later, when the event organizer asked him to return to his “cave,” she said Santa seemed stunned and replied that he didn’t know where it was.

Charlie Lewis, 26, brought her six-year-old daughter Layla to Santa at the Radcliffe Girls and Boys Club

When Layla finally managed to meet Santa, Mrs. Lewis said he appeared to be “slumped on the couch” and had made no effort to be festive.

She said, “He was just slumped on the couch. He wasn’t happy at all.

“There was no effort in his voice. Nothing at all resembling Santa Claus.’

“I felt like I had let her down as a mother.”

Ms Lewis said she took little Layla to see Santa at Radcliffe Girls and Boys Club on Saturday (November 27) as a last minute decision to get into the festive spirit.

She said: ‘It was a last minute decision. We just took her down to get her in the Christmas spirit, actually.

“It was shared on Facebook, so I thought I’d just give it a try.

However, Ms. Lewis started to notice some red flags as soon as she arrived in the parking lot of the venue where the meeting was to take place.

She said: ‘We arrived at the parking lot and he was smoking a cigarette in plain sight with his bird around his neck.

“I just tried to put Layla in the car and make it taller so she wouldn’t see it.

‘But she did say, ‘Oh, look, there’s Santa Claus.’

“I don’t know if she saw the cigarette in his mouth.”

Ms Lewis later said the event organizer had asked Santa to “go back to his cave,” a comment that seemed to confuse him.

She said, “We followed him after a while and we were just behind him, and the organizer of the event had said, ‘Go back to your cave.’

“He replied that he had forgotten where it was.”

Once in the cave, she said Santa seemed “slumped down” in his chair and was not getting into the festive spirit.

She said, “He was just slumped on the couch. He wasn’t happy at all.

“There was no effort in his voice. Nothing at all resembling Santa Claus.’

Ms. Lewis said Layla was left with “a lot of questions” after the meeting.

She said: ‘She’s quite a nervous kid, so she happily sat there and took it, but once we left, she had a lot of questions in the car.

“She said she knew this wasn’t the real Santa, things like that.

She added: “I’ve tried in the past to get Layla to see Santa, but she’s a bit of an anxious child.

“She’s always withdrawn at the last minute, so this was the first time I’ve actually managed to bring her along, and that’s the first experience she’s having now.

“Kids don’t believe in Santa for long, that’s why it’s so important for them to have a good experience, but this Santa didn’t act like Santa at all.”

Laura De-Foe, who hosted the event, described their Santa Claus as a “great and kind man.”

She said, “He would never knowingly make a child uncomfortable, and several other children left very happy and told us we had done a good job and that they would come again.”

In her spare time, Mrs. Lewis works with Radcliffe Litter Pickers, and fellow volunteers have now paid for a trip to Santa’s Grotto at Radcliffe Christmas Markets.

A spokesperson for the litter collectors said: ‘A good Santa keeps alive the magic of Christmas, which is so important to a child’s early years.

“They need to have a good first experience, so we want to help erase Layla’s bad memory.”

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