Retro Scary Santa

Mary Ellen and Tim Kelly with Santa at the Fair Haven Firehouse circa 1987. Photo/Evie Connor Kelly
Mary Ellen and Tim Kelly with Santa at the Fair Haven Firehouse circa 1987.
Photo/Evie Connor Kelly

It’s time again for the time-honored holiday tradition of the not-always-so-smooth Santa visit.

Remember being readied for that jolly trauma trip to the lap of that big fat man in a red suit who laughs really loud, has a beard that could be home to an entire family of birds and is about to tell you whether or not you’ve been nice enough to get presents?

Yeah, that one. That’s the trip that many times seems to go awfully awry.

The siblings’ outfits are perfectly matched. The hair is spit-curled and coiffed with tender care. The toothy or toothless smiles are practiced with waves and a “Smile for mom and dad!”

And, plop, there go the little darlings on Santa’s lap. Aaaaand CUUUUT!  Someone’s screaming in horror at the ho, ho, horrifying jolliness of it all. And, no, no sweet stash of bribe candy will stop the tears.

The promise of a toy, or anything good, for that matter is overshadowed by the towering stranger and that hoooooo so creepy laugh. As if the outfit isn’t enough. Well, that’s how some kids see it, anyway. There’s always one adorably miserable child in the Santa crowd.

The others? Well, they either embrace the guy full on, or they just sit and stare at him or their sibling while the antics are in full play, or they go about their business of justifying their goodness for the year with a Kodak moment grimace.

So, hey, many parents embrace the dichotomy and get the pic. It’s always a classic shot. Go with it. It’s hometown Hollywood, really. Why not? It’s a kinda must.

So, the Retro Pic of the Day honors those Santa screamers, their guts, gusto and, of course, priceless poses. Awwww. What would a Santa date be without at least one?

Here we have Mary Ellen and Tim Kelly circa 1987 at the Fair Haven Firehouse. Parents Evie Connor Kelly and Tom, native Fair Havenites, tell us that Mary Ellen survived and smiles a lot these days.

Got a good retro miserable Santa moment to share? Send it to us at We will honor the moment appropriately. Tell us your story. Oh, and cheers to Santa, the scream and lots of sweet smiles … and candy … and presents. Remember your Santa close-up?

— Elaine Van Develde