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This is the most depressing economic news we've seen all year: Small towns and malls across America are so strapped for cash that they can no longer afford to hire Santa for Christmas. For maximum impact, try reading the following excerpt in your best Jimmy Stewart voice:
"Santa won't be waving to the children of Bay City, Mich., this year -- at least, not the giant illuminated Santa that used to perch on a downtown rooftop. Mayor Charles M. Brunner made the call with a heavy heart. During long winter nights, it always gave him a lift to see the lights all aglow. But this year, even Santa is getting downsized. It's too expensive for the struggling old lumber town to hoist him up to the roof and keep him twinkling."
If your heartstrings aren't sufficiently tugged, you could also try staring at the photo the Wall Street Journal used to illustrate this article, which is of Santa trudging off, his back to the camera, taking all your new toys with him.
This sad story has a silver lining, though: It introduced us to the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas, which a) exists and b) is doing its darndest to combat the crisis. We're pretty sure there is a holiday movie in this somewhere, so we hope their secretary is taking diligent notes.
· Glum Tidings: Santa Gets Sacked as Cities, Companies Look to Save [WSJ]