A few blocks from where a man apparently lost his job as Santa Claus at Macy’s Union Square for telling dirty jokes, John Toomey received a warm welcome today in a San Francisco hotspot, where he will reprise his now-famous role.
Toomey, who had been playing Santa at Macy’s Union Square for the past 20 years, is now the in-house Santa at Lefty O’Doul’s restaurant near Union Square, where he is also serving as the spokesman for the 10th anniversary of the Firefighters Toy Program.
Toomey made his debut today during the 3 p.m. celebration and said he is enjoying his new job.
“It’s wonderful,” he said. “It’s like coming out into the sunshine after a very bad snowstorm.”
Lefty O’Doul’s owner Nick Bovis, who had been to Macy’s with his own children in the past, stepped in to offer Toomey a job once he heard the news.
“I’ll pay you double what Macy’s paid,” Bovis said. “I told him, ‘you can tell any jokes you want.'”
Bovis was not worried about Toomey’s sense of humor.
“He knows what’s right and what’s wrong,” Bovis said.
Toomey’s controversial firing didn’t stop a steady stream of adults and kids from sitting on Santa’s lap at Lefty O’Doul’s. He smiled as he sat in a specially constructed stage area in the back of the restaurant.
Danville resident Mark Libby, who was previously unaware of the controversy, let his 7-year-old daughter sit on Santa’s lap.
“I think the controversy is ridiculous,” Libby said. “Santa seemed very nice.”
Toomey, who appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Thursday night, shook hands and posed for pictures with Lefty’s patrons.
Bovis said the attention is helping make the toy drive an early success with toy barrels already starting to fill up.
“This will be better than any toy drive we’ve ever had,” Bovis said.
Toomey is scheduled to appear at Lefty’s from 3 to 8 p.m. every day until Christmas Eve.
Bovis said he offered Toomey a regular position as a spokesman for the toy drive.
“I hope he takes it,” Bovis said. “Who better to be the spokesperson than Santa?”