Dromore this morning is reeling from the news that yesterday’s Santa visit to the community hall coupled with the riotous behaviour after the nativity play has cost the village £1.2m. Plans are already in place to raise funds over the next five years with talk of the next few Christmases being low-key affairs or even cancelled until they foot the bill. What hurt the committee even more this morning was the realisation that they had hired the worse Santa in living memory and the farcical scenes during the much-anticipated festive play. Gerard McAllister, chairman of the Dromore Christmas Society, explains:
“We knew we were in trouble when Santa pulled up in the back of a pick-up truck which sped off in the Omagh direction. The fact that he was a woman was one obstacle to overcome – reeking of drink doubled the disappointment. With 300 expectant children and parents waiting in the hall, I had no option but to sober her up. It was then that she demanded her cheque up front – £500’000. Our treasurer had booked her through an advert in the Irish News without thrashing out a deal beforehand. It turned out she was a Men’s Club Stripping Santa. After a bit of pushing, slapping and shoving we agreed to write out the cheque as long as she kept her clothes on whilst dishing out the gifts which we also had to find at short notice. We scoured the changing rooms and managed to gather old socks, deodorant and dirty shorts to wrap. Anything lying about was considered. Although the children were a bit confused with the cleavage, lipstick and blonde hair, she kept it professional and only blew kisses and winked at a couple of fathers.”
Things went from bad to worse minutes before the Nativity play was to commence. Half the cast, all male, left to go with the Santa into Belfast. That left them without a Joseph, two wise kings and baby Jesus. Beforehand they were just worried about the depiction of Mary who was being played by McAllister’s mother, 86-year old Jenny McAllister.
“It didn’t take long before the boos were raining down on us. You have to understand how short the notice was. We managed to convince 5-year-old Harry Behan to play Joseph and he has an awful stutter. One of the Wise Kings was played by my 12-year-old border collie Rufus, and Mary gave birth to a melon in a blanket. It was all we had. Well, the crowd started to cut up rough. The children had opened their presents by this stage and the contents were being used as missiles. Studs, y-fronts and Deep Heat tubes were arrowing up on stage. Rufus got nervous and started piddling in the crib, ate the melon and then bit young Harry. It was awful. Just awful. I understood their anger. We’d charged them £30 in for this.”
The proceeding village riot cost an estimate £700’000 in damages. Barns were set alight and the traffic lights defaced. Fund-raising starts tonight with a wet sponge throwing stall. McAllister has volunteered to take the hits.