Kids and adults lap up chance to sit with Santa
TOM Arthurs has been a Santa for 17 years, filling in for the jolly man in red who is still busy making toys in the North Pole.
Busy bringing the spirit of Christmas to adults and children alike at Maryborough's Station Square, Mr Arthurs won't tolerate "any nastiness" on the subject of Santa.
That includes the suggestion that children shouldn't sit on Santa's lap.
Hetty Johnson, spokeswoman for the child abuse protection organisation Bravehearts, sparked a huge backlash this week when she demanded shopping centres update their protection policies, including a directive for children to stand beside Santa unless parents or children request to sit on Santa's knee.
Mr Arthurs said far from being a sinister figure, Santa gave children the opportunity to express their wishes for Christmas.
"Santa brings joy to children at Christmas," he said.
And people of all ages love to join in the Christmas spirit - the youngest child to sit on Mr Arthurs' knee was just three hours old and the oldest person was 95.
"The activists themselves are casting the doubts and causing problems," Mr Arthurs said.
"Parents have the right to say yes or no, but don't push the child into it."
The kids love to ask Mr Arthurs how Santa gets everything done ahead of Christmas Eve and says often the answers to the questions aren't easy and he has had to think on his feet "many times".