Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Man Who Killed Santa Claus

This is taken from "The Story of My Life" by Benner Azro Hall:

"In December of 1932, the local newspaper was a weekly, called the Mesa-Journal Tribune. John McPhee was the editor and publisher of the paper. Well, that year, he and some of the business men came up with a brilliant idea to add some excitement to the Christmas celebration. On Friday, December 9, the Journal had front page headlines which announced, 'Santa Claus Coming in Airplane'. The article went on to say that he would fly over Mesa, do a few loops, then jump out in a parachute to land in the arms of the waiting crowd.

Well, that should be really exciting. At that time there was only one airplane available in Mesa, a two-wing biplane, flown by Mitchell McFadden. They found a stunt man someplace, who agreed to dress up like Santa and jump out of the plane.

Unfortunately, the stunt man was one who was fond of alcoholic beverages and he started celebrating too early. When they were ready to load him in the plane he was so drunk he couldn't stand up. So, John McPhee came up with another idea.

They put Santa's costume on a dummy, put a parachute on it, and loaded it in the plane. McFadden was instructed to fly over the crowd, do a few loops, then push Santa out of the plane, so he would land in a field, just outside of town. The police car would drive down Main Street, with another man dressed as Santa.

Well, all went well, with lots of excited children as the plane flew over, doing its stunt; but then tragedy struck the great town of Mesa.

When Mitch pushed the dummy out, the parachute didn't open. You can just imagine all the terrified children, gasping as Santa's body tumbled to the earth.

But, a few minutes later, all were relieved when the police car came driving down the street, with Santa in the back, waving and throwing bags of candy to the amazed children. The Christmas spirit was renewed in the town of Mesa, but Mr. McPhee had difficulty living down the reputation as 'The man who killed Santa'."