Children were left asking to meet the “real Santa” after a volunteer Father Christmas took their wishlists with his beard around his neck.
Families dubbed the Christmas meet-and-greet “embarrassing” and “a shambles” after kids queued for ages to sit down with Mr Claus at Northallerton Town Hall on Friday.
The volunteer Santa turned up in the back of a 4×4 with the rest of the traffic and without prior warning, meaning the kids were busy when he arrived, one annoyed mum said.
And some children didn’t get to meet St Nick because organisers, Northallerton Council, ran out of presents, Yorkshire Live reports.
Parents claimed their kids were distraught after the Christmas do, with some coming away and asking if they could meet the real Santa.
Another ticked off mum said she wondered how many kids went home not believing.
The free event was held on Friday at Northallerton Town Hall and was organised by the town council, who have responded to the complaints saying that it will have a review and publish an online survey to “establish where improvements can be made for the future”.
One parent who visited with her five-year-old son told YorkshireLive that “overall it was a complete shambles”.
She said: “The main issues were that Santa arrived at 6.05pm with the rest of the traffic with no warning before.
“Most people hadn’t even arrived at this point. My little boy was on a ride at this point and missed him.”
The High Street was kept open during the event, despite the ongoing Town Square regeneration works which meant there was less space for families to manoeuvre.
The woman added: “There was people trying to dodge traffic with their little ones in the dark.
“Santa then appeared at the town hall doors and a huge group of people were pushing and shoving to get to the front – there was absolutely no organisation at all.
“The Santa was absolutely terrible. His outfit was falling to bits and his beard was hung down below his chin. One man said to the security stood next to Santa how rubbish the he was and they just laughed at him.
“My little boy was really upset. We didn’t get the chance to meet Santa as they ran out of presents and he knew he was a fake as he kept asking ‘where is the real Santa?’”
Other comments on a community page include one person who said the event “should have been cancelled”.
She wrote: “A very big disappointment/ embarrassment to Northallerton. I feel sorry for the children, tonight was something for them to look forward to after last year. It would be interesting to know how many children have stopped believing.”
Another wrote: “Embarrassing for our town! The whole thing was a shambles. Why did they not close the road for a start? Cars and buses trying to get through crowd’s of people, they’re lucky no one got hurt. Were they expecting just a few people to turn up. Such a shame for the kids (sic).”
A spokeswoman at the council said: “Northallerton Town Council would like to thank everyone who attended the Festive Friday event. There was a lively atmosphere on the High Street, due to the very high attendance, with more than 500 children receiving presents from Santa and High Street businesses benefiting from additional custom during late opening.
“We had detailed discussions with representatives of Hambletons Multi-Agency Safety Advisory Group beforehand and were advised that closure of the High Street was not necessary. However, space restrictions around the Town Hall, caused by the Town Square reconstruction works, meant it was more crowded on the night than had been anticipated.
“All those who wanted to meet Santa were able to do so. Nevertheless, we acknowledge that some negative comments have been posted on social media and, as always after events, we will undertake a thorough review to establish where improvements can be made for the future including an online survey of the public about the evening.”