Jingle bells, a new Santa has arrived

Last updated 12:00 10/12/2013
Geoff Denton
READY TO RIDE: Geoff Denton will take pride of place at the Levin Mall Santa Parade.

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Levin Mall management have been able to delete the phone number of their bad Santa forever because they have found a jolly and familiar face to replace him.

Geoff Denton, a fixture of the town's Christmas parade, will saddle up on a donated sleigh in the mall today.

Last week the Manawatu Standard published a Christmas plea by Gaire Thompson, who is managing director of Thompson Property Group - the company in charge of Levin Mall.

The Santa he had booked for the gig over the holiday period, which is used by the mall to collect donations for the Levin Food Bank, had reneged on an offer of $15 an hour after talking to Santas in Wellington.

After initially agreeing to the job, he then refused to accept anything below $25 an hour for the work and insisted a sign be placed beside him to advertise his services for Christmas Day.

The demands were too much for the mall and they decided to search for a last-minute Santa - one more concerned with the jingle of bells than the jingle of coins in his pocket.

A number of experienced volunteers came forward but the standout curriculum vitae was Mr Denton's.

It includes nearly 20 years as Santa in the Levin Christmas Parade, which ended abruptly in 2007 when the Horowhenua District Council controversially gave him the heave-ho-ho to give someone else a go.

The story made national headlines.

"I've been told he looks exactly like the real Santa," Mr Thompson said.

Mr Denton did not pick up calls from the Manawatu Standard but told Fairfax Media in 2007 that he was a kid at heart and used to dye his black beard white until Father Time did it for him.

"I just do it for Levin. And not for the council either - it's for the kiddies," he said.

Mr Denton's hours will be 11am to 1pm and 3pm to 4pm in the mall's hallway near Farmers.

He will have a bag of lollies for children and photos can be taken with him. The cost of the photo will be a can or cash donation to the Levin Food Bank.

Mr Thompson said Santa might adjust his hours closer to Christmas.

A sleigh has been donated, but the mall is still searching for Santa's misplaced chair.

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- © Fairfax NZ News


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