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Mrs. Claus insult hits Santa close to home

Accounts differ as to who started the rudeness after a father was told International Plaza's photo line was closed.

Published December 22, 2005

TAMPA - One thing everyone agrees on is that things got ugly when the man with two kids said something not-so-nice about Mrs. Claus.

"No one talks to my wife this way," Santa responded.

Albert Andrion's holiday outing to International Plaza with his two daughters turned tense after he was turned away from the magical Narnia photo set.

Cassandra, 4, and Melanie, 7, had made the drive with their parents from St. Petersburg for the photo shoot.

But after waiting about 15 minutes, Andrion said he was told he was in the exit lane. When he scooted over to the entrance, Mrs. Claus told him he was too late. It was after 8 p.m.; the Santa shop would be closing.

That didn't sit well with the chiropractor with two prim daughters waiting to dictate their Christmas lists.

"He was insisting, no matter what anyone said, he was getting a picture," said Nina Mahoney, mall spokeswoman.

They had already turned others away, Mahoney said, and it would have been unfair to make an exception.

Andrion said Mrs. Claus was not only unwilling to accommodate him, "She was just a witch."

When he asked to speak to Mrs. Claus' boss, she called security. As security was trying to smooth things out, Santa intervened.

According to the mall spokeswoman, the jolly old elf overheard Andrion say something rude to his wife regarding her age. He stood up and declared, "No one talks to my wife this way."

Andrion says he didn't know Mrs. Claus really was Santa's wife when he replied: "That's your wife? I feel sorry for you!"

Santa, according to Andrion, started toward him. He said a security guard restrained Santa, who soon walked off.

International Plaza general manager Chris Dalish, who arrived during the end of the exchange, said Santa did not lunge, nor was he restrained. Rather, Santa walked away without any threat.

"It's kind of nice that the kids see that Santa walked away from confrontation," Mahoney said.

[Last modified December 22, 2005, 00:58:15]

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