SAUGUS (CBS) – Following a tradition that began in the 1960s, Santa Claus arrived in Saugus on Tuesday riding in a fire department rescue truck and handing out coloring books to elementary school kids.
The trip nearly didn’t happen.
The school superintendent cancelled Santa’s visit at the last minute over concerns that it would appear he was giving preference to one religious holiday over another.
A number of parents responded with outrage.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Karen Twomey reports
Some school committee members were also upset, along with members of the fire department who organized the event, over the last-minute nature of the cancellation.
“He’s not teaching about any religion. He’s teaching about giving and caring. I think he’s doing his job,” one parent named Christine told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Karen Twomey.
The superintendent responded with an about face, saying Santa could continue with the planned visit.
He mentioned however, that the issue will need to be revisited.
School Committee Chair Wendy Reed agrees, noting that state law says religious holiday observance is not the responsibility of public schools.
“I think because it was done last minute everyone was very emotional. ‘They’re killing Santa.’ But this is something that has to be discussed as a community,” she said. “Santa’s coming to town today, yes. But in the future, he may have to do that on the parents’ own time.”