NYPost- Jerry Henderson of Burleson, Texas says he and his wife have visited Six Flags Over Texas almost every weekend for three years to walk the park for exercise. Henderson, who sports a long white beard, and small, rimless-glasses says park officials never had a problem with his appearance—until Saturday.
“This ain’t a costume,” Henderson told CBS Dallas-Fort-Worth of his signature, Santa-like look which he says he’s maintained for almost two decades. During the holiday season, he wears a red vest and Santa hat, too. “I go to Walmart like this. This is me,” he said. “I enjoy making kids smile.”
While visiting Six Flags Saturday, Henderson says another park visitor approached him to pose for a picture with her children. That’s when the trouble started.
“[I] knelt down, put my arms around them, and afterward I reached in my wife’s walker, pulled out two candy canes, handed it to them,” Henderson said of the encounter.
A park security staffer soon approached and immediately told the Kris Kringle lookalike that he was no longer welcome.
“’We’re gonna have to ask you to leave’,” Henderson says the guard told him. “I said, ‘For what reason?’ He said, ‘You look too much like Santa Claus.’ And I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ I do not approach kids. The parents come to me.”
Henderson claims he then offered to take off his hat and promised to stop handing out any treats but says the park manager told him that wouldn’t be enough—he’d have to get rid of the beard, too.
You just know the world is an unbearably fucked up place when I agree with 'Six Flags' for taking action against a man who plays up the fact that he looks like Santa Claus around the holidays. I really want to say it's ridiculous that the assumption is that Jerry Henderson is some kind of creepy predator, but to do so I would have to also make the claim that there isn't a single bearded man lurking around an amusement park with sweets hoping to reel in stray, vulnerable kids. I know were all supposed to see the best in people around the holidays, but it would take a Christmas miracle for everyone that looks like Jerry Henderson year round to have good intentions.
Simply put, it's better safe than sorry. Can you imagine if Kris Kringle was just trying to sucker some unsupervised children back to his non-descript Astro van in the parking lot with a couple of candy canes? You don't have to answer that, because I know you can imagine that. Hell, without Googling it I would say I'm half certain that headline has been printed before. The world - as a whole - is a shitty place where bad things happen. Theme parks aren't exempt from that idea, so the people that run those theme parks have to do everything in their power to make sure they don't find themselves culpable in kidnappings.
That's a insanely cynical way to look at a friendly old man giving a couple children a photo-op with Saint Nick. However, if Jerry Henderson randomly showed up to a public park hugging kids and handing out candy corn a month ago then there would be no shortage of parents begging for him to be represented by a red dot on an online map, and that's not just because candy corn fucking sucks. I'll agree that Six Flags didn't have to kick out a loyal customer and a simple warning would have sufficed, but I don't agree that they should take every non-contracted Santa that claims they aren't a sexual deviant at their word.