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Santa Program on Ho-Ho-Hold Till Next Year

Times Staff Writer

Wanted: Jolly people willing to wear red costumes, white wigs and pillows to increase their girth while visiting children.

Apply to Jim Engle, acting community services director in Huntington Beach -- next year.

He’s already looking ahead because this holiday season, there were not enough workers to continue the city’s Community Santa Program, which he helped found 16 years ago.

Under the program, a resident could call Engle’s department and ask for a Santa Claus to visit his or her home for 15 minutes during the holidays.

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But since last Christmas, several Santas have retired and there is no one left to oversee the program, nor enough time to hire and train new Santas.

Even a last-ditch offer of $5,000 from the Huntington Beach Municipal Employees Assn. couldn’t help.

“We appreciate the gesture, but it was not a budget issue,” Engle said. “We need someone to oversee the program. You cannot just go to any street corner and get good Santas.”


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