By Stephen Weir
Toronto night skulkers kill Santa Claus every night. They also deflate Santa snowmen and crush festive penguins. Even Rudolf and all his reindeer aren’t safe this holiday season.
It is a Toronto phenomenon that is rapidly growing by stabs and slashes. Christmas inflatables left outside at night have suddenly become targets. I call it Santacide. Others might say I am just full of hot air
Last week I was visited by a CBC TV news videographer who followed me as I inspected the remains of blown up blow-up lawn ornaments that have fallen prey to knife, hatpin and a porto weed wacker attacks overnight. (CTV TV News did a story the same night about teenagers caught on film stabbing a fully inflated lawn Santa in Etobicoke).
The newsman came out because of my on-line reputation as the Santacide detective. For the past two years I have been investigating, photographing and posting the gory details of Santa slashing on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr and my own website.
With the help of volunteers, who send me their own pictures of downed Christmas lawn ornaments, I have managed to collect over 300 crime scene photographs.
As blow-up characters become more elaborate and less expensive than Christmas tree lights, people have become competitive in the size, diversity and number that are being installed. Santa is a favourite for the front yard, but so too are Star War figures, snowmen, penguins and Disney characters. The blow-ups are well lit, have blowers and many are over one-storey tall.
It most cases the Santacide attacks are best described as a nuisance crime. Duct tape and a glue gun will usually get Santa back in his sleigh in no time.
The cost of most plastic figures is very low. Walmart is currently selling an airblow inflatable Scooby Doo dog carrying a candy cane for $30.
There are times the police do have to be called – the most expensive blow-ups sell for thousands of dollars. For instance, an industrial strength inflatable 40 ft snowman that is sold by Toronto’s Deluxe Canopy retails for $2,200.
It is a rough life for a lawn Santa. Not only does St Nick contend with knock-down strong winds, poorly trained dogs and the claws of wild raccoons. He has to face the new menace – armed Santa haters.
Spot lit and fully inflated, a 10- foot tall Santa Snowman towers over a residential street. Robbed of its air by a knife, that same Santa suddenly becomes a very small heap of white plastic.
The CBC asked the question that everyone wants to ask, Why?
My research has found four reasons why Santas are dying at such an alarming rate.
The first reason? Alcohol. The closer Santa is to a bar or nightclub the more chance he will die a horrible death before Christmas. The common weapon of choice are car keys. Nail files, knives and broken bottles have also played a part in 2017 deflations. The strangest I’ve seen? Teeth puncture marks on Santa’s hand.
Reason Two? Theft. Many of the large inflatables require electric pumps to constantly push air into Santa to keep him erect. Scrap metal thieves see Santa’s power pack left out-in-the-open as free money.
Reason Three? Inflatable Envy. Bragging rights to the tallest and best inflatable on the street may be driving competing neighbours to crime.
Reason Four? No crime has taken place. Some of the Airblown Inflatables aren’t made well and leak air throughout the night. By morning they are a heap on the grass waiting to pumped up for another day.
I have talked to a few owners of downed Santas while I photograph the empty remains of their blowups. Last week a man said to me (as he duct taped Santa’s breached black boot that he had been expecting the attack. “It has been happening up and down the street. I can fix Santa. I just hope I can get him back up before the kids come home.”
- Knife Victim
Santa stabbed. Body chalked. Just waiting for Santa to be taken away. Late November. Carnage has begun in North Toronto
Twin Santa Driveway takedown. Killed by badly parked Audi. Duct tape fixes everything.
3 kris kringle hangs around
Nick Not Dead Yet. Faux Santa Slaying on Bayview Avenue (near Merton) in North Toronto. Real Estate company faked his demise as a joke.
- Suicide.Murder?An Ill Wind.JPG
Suicide? Murder? Misadventure? An ill wind? The 3 metre (10ft) tall Santa had his air bled out on wall spike. Avenue Road. Did Santa try to escape and accidently impale himself? Was he so jaded from mindlessly waving at passing Audis, Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Jags that he took a headfirst plunge onto the wall or was it simply another case of pedestrian Santacide. Sunday afternoon.
- Takes one for the team
Santa’s elf showed signs of being hit by a car. I found him nose to the ground behind the flower pot.
- Roselawn – neighbours mourn together
composite picture of two dead santas on Roselawn Avenue across from the Eglinton Park. Two different homes 5 doors apart.
- Saving Santa
In the Beaches one homeowner didn’t want vandals getting at Santa so he installed him on his porch roof
- Santa on Inglewood by George Socka
Down, but not out. Fellow “Dead Santa” detective George Socka “shot” this fallen Santa on Inglewood (Scarborough, Toronto)
9.. blue santa snowman in forest hill.jpg
He is Blue. You would be too. Murdered Santa Snowman. Obvious signs of trauma near his breathing tube. Face down in the front yard of a Chaplin Estate home
- Carrot Nose In Dirt.jpg
Santacide. Sunday afternoon. Santa snowman’s carrot nose buried deep in front yard. Appears that a sharp object was involved. Customized Corkscrew? (it is that sort of neighbourhood). North Toronto
Lawrence Ave West. The Jolly Old Fellow’s face was sliced, diced and the body tossed onto a juniper bush to air out! Owner thinks he will have him back up waving at the cars come Rush Hour. I think it will take more than one roll of duct tape to put this Santa back together again.
The Hat Pin killer is the prime suspect. Several small holes in Santa’s chest. Owner had him repaired and reinflated the same day
SIDEBAR – MAYBE SANTAS ARE BUILT TO FAIL
12 Ft Airblown Santa Inflatables are garbage
Edited from a product review post
“ I had 6 defective Airblown inflatables this year that have been returned. I also own 8 inflatable products made by Gemmy, some as old as 6 years. I have only one Airblown that has lasted more than a season. This Santa ripped the first day. The rip went all the way down the side. He replaced a 16ft Santa that had the blower sewn on upside down and that replaced the Santa and reindeer set. I could not inflate the reindeer. My grandkids said Santa’s reindeer were sick. I tried tying their heads to an overhead tree but when deflated, it looked like three dead reindeer carcasses hanging in my yard. Need I go on?