Christmas in New York City would be nothing without Rockefeller Center, home of the renowned 80-foot Christmas tree and the ice skating rink that doubles as the planet’s favorite wedding proposal location. It’s a place full of traditions, but this year may see the absence of a favorite — the rink’s beloved Skating Santa.
Paul Chernosky, Rockefeller Center’s Santa extraordinaire, has spent the past 15 holiday seasons making families smile and taking pictures with skaters. However, Grinch-like management changes this year have caused Paul to be fired without warning.
Paul was shocked by the sudden job loss:
“I was always told in the past that as long as I wanted the job I had it. … I felt very appreciated and praised for my work, and then all of a sudden: boom. The rug was just pulled out from under my feet.”
Is there anything more mood-crushing than a pink-slipped Santa Claus? It already takes enough energy not to ditch the holiday spirit after a morning spent in a long line at the post office! The firing of a famous Santa is practically guaranteed to rain on your festivity parade.
Paul and his elves were told less than two weeks before the season was to begin that he wouldn’t be invited to the rink. This is the first year since 1998 that he’s been left uninvited. Before working at Rockefeller Center, he was a professional figure-skater and skating teacher. He told the UK’s Guardian:
“I never had any idea that I would end up doing it for 15 years…at the very beginning I thought: ‘Oh my God, I’m going to be Santa, and I was maybe a little bit embarrassed. But that quickly went away…I found that people are at their best around Santa Claus.”
Paul, who’s become something of an international icon, has created an online petition on Change.org to get his job back. Don’t be a grinch, Rockefeller Center!
[Image via New York Daily News]