Newport’s Santa and Mrs. Claus lose their outfits to a thief
‘Twas Tuesday night and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
But outside the house in the 100 block of Coral Avenue on Balboa Island, a thief was rifling through an unlocked car parked in its usual carport. The bandit checked the glove box before grabbing a garment bag that was sitting neatly on the front seat. The thief then headed off into the night.
Inside the garment bag was a Santa Claus suit complete with red pants and jacket and padding for Santa’s belly. Mrs. Claus’ red dress with classic white trim also was inside.
Michael Lawler and his wife, Barbara, had put the holiday outfits in the car to drop them off at their storage unit, since they wouldn’t need them again until next Christmas.
“We were kind of in denial,” Michael Lawler said. “I was thinking, ‘How could that be?’ Why would someone want to steal a Santa suit?”
Lawler said he hasn’t filed a police report and isn’t sure he’s going to.
For years, the Lawlers have dressed in full garb to play Santa and Mrs. Claus in the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade and the Balboa Island Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
They bought their outfits five years ago while driving through Moreno Valley on their way home from Palm Springs. Michael Lawler saw a giant banner over a costume shop advertising Santa suits on sale. He looked at his wife and they decided pull off the freeway to check it out.
“We figured, ‘Why not?’” he said. “We had a lot of fun with it.”
The top-of-the-line outfits are valued at about $200 apiece, Lawler said.
Whoever took the Santa gear will have a tough time pulling off the full look next Christmas. The thief left behind a bag containing Santa’s boots, white beard, glasses and black gloves, Lawler said.
Before Lawler runs out to buy a new suit, he’s asking that the person return the Santa and Mrs. Claus outfits, no questions asked.
“I’m really bummed out about it,” he said.