"Santa John" Toomey, the red-suited local fixture on his way to making national headlines for being canned by Macy's due to a naughty joke, may end up having a very merry Christmas after all. He tells SF Weekly that local bar and eatery Lefty O'Doul's has offered to double his previous salary if he'll take his Santa act there.
"They're willing to pay me well," said Toomey in his booming, resonant voice -- really a voice made to bellow "ho, ho, ho."
"And, I guess, free drinks, all the food I can eat, and all the breaks I want," he adds. Toomey says he is leaning toward accepting the offer.
The deposed Santa said he likely wouldn't return to the post he held at Macy's for 20 years prior to his abrupt firing over the weekend. "Probably not. I think they should stew for a while," he says. "They fired me without cause and have yet to speak to me."
The couple, whom Toomey described as being in their 60s, were not amused. Complaints were made and he was jettisoned. Macy's has refused to discuss a "personnel matter" with the press.
Fair enough, says Toomey. "It's their store and they're allowed to do what they want. But it was certainly a pretty lousy deal all the way around. ... It's not the first job I've been fired from and it probably won't be the last."
When asked what prior jobs he'd exited unceremoniously, Toomey noted some less-than-enthralling stints "in food service departments and at a couple of restaurants up on the hill in Oroville."
Toomey has been working as a Santa for more than 30 years. He broke in in a Chico mall "wearing the phony beard. After that, I said 'never again' and grew my own."
He keeps his Santa-like beard year-round, as, otherwise, he couldn't regrow it quickly enough.
Toomey has been besieged by both well-wishers and the media -- don't try leaving a voice mail message for Santa, because Santa's voice mail is full.
"Tell everyone I love them," he said. "I'm doing the best I can. And I don't let stuff like this bother me."