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The Hutchinson News, Lindsey Bauman/AP

Inter-Santa Relations Turn Frosty

July 11, 2008 02:06 PM
by Josh Katz
Verbal and physical quarrelling, Elf Net smear campaigns and warring with rival Claus organizations have wracked a leading Santa group.

30-Second Summary

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Tensions are high as the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas (AORBS) meets today at an annual convention in Kansas, where group members will participate in a “Santa, Baseball and Me” charity event.

On June 10, The Wall Street Journal reported on enmity within the fraternal organization for professional Santas. The organization was conceived in 1994 during a Santa TV shoot in Hollywood, and is meant to facilitate the exchange of information related to the trade. “One point of pride: The group didn’t let in anybody without a real beard, disdaining the many department-store Santas with fake ones,” according to the Journal.

Santa Tim Connaghan became the head of the 100-member AORBS in 2003 and he upped the membership to 700 by 2007.

But board member Nick Trolli began to question the ethics of Connaghan acting as a booking agent for member Santas and the fact that Connaghan received $25,000 for consulting a Hollywood production company.

Trolli eventually became president and ruled “with an iron fist in a white glove,” removing board members for reasons that included “maligning fellow Santas on Elf Net,” an AORBS Web chat group.

Tensions increased when the hulking vice president Jeff Germann allegedly got too physical when removing a banned member from a meeting. Another ostracized member was then able to shut down the group’s Web site. The AORBS has also been charged with financial misconduct.

Connaghan now runs the International University of Santa Claus, whose alumni group, the Red Suit Society, has filed complaints against the AORBS for “engaging in Un-Santa like dialogue.”

Headline Link: ‘These Santas Are Keeping a List, And Not All Have Been Nice’

Related Topic: Santa license plates

Reference: The Amalgamated Order of Real-Bearded Santas; Christmas Guide

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