Coal turns to cookies for Santa John

A Santa fired for telling a joke will be arriving today in a fire truck at his new job to collect toys for the girls and boys.

John Toomey was fired from Macy’s in Union Square after a 20-year stint there for telling a joke to an elderly couple. Toomey, however, was hired by nearby eatery Lefty O’Doul’s, where he will start today.

If the weather permits, Toomey will arrive for his new gig riding on a historic fire engine around Union Square, according to Lee Houskeeper, a spokesperson for Lefty O’Doul’s. Then, Toomey, known as Santa John, will be at the specially constructed North Pole Winter Wonderland stage behind the eatery each day from 3 p.m. until
8 p.m. The restaurant collects toys each year for the San Francisco Firefighters Toy Drive.

Collecting presents will be a change for Toomey, who was granted a holiday gift of his own by landing a job just one day after being fired.

Toomey was let go from the department store after the older couple complained about a semi-crude joke they heard from Santa John. The joke is a one-liner that Toomey has told Santa’s adult visitors for years without
complaint, Houskeeper said.

“He’s been an absolute delight,” said Houskeeper. “There is not a malicious or a weird streak in his body; he is Santa.”

The incident has made Toomey a celebrity of sorts. On Thursday, he flew to Los Angeles to tape a segment for the “Tonight Show,” according to Houskeeper.

shaughey@sfexaminer.com

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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