One Santa Claus in England gave mall shoppers a bit more than they had expected when his rappelling stunt went wrong.
The Santa was descending from a hole in the roof of the Broad Street Mall in Reading as part of a show to light up the mall’s Christmas lights when his fake beard got stuck in the rope, leaving him hanging for about 40 minutes.
Video of Santa’s misadventure was posted on the mall’s website.
It starts out showing crowds gathered for the lighting and a male announcer can be heard calling for “Father Christmas.” The crowd responds with cheers and Santa appears from a hole above the area where the crowd had gathered.
He waves while he makes his descent, but at about the halfway point he stops.
The announcer, who had been chanting “Ho! Ho! Ho!” begins to address the Santa directly, while the crowd’s cheers turn to laughter.
“Oh, no! He hasn’t got the rope stuck in his beard?” the announcer said, adding, “Father Christmas, are you going to stay up there, Father Christmas?
“Well, shall we go on and switch on the lights anyway?”
The crowd roared its approval. Bright lights blinked and cheery Christmas songs began to play, all while Santa dangled in the air over the festivities.
The Daily Mail newspaper reported that Santa, who’s really 32-year-old Steve Chessell of the British Army, hung there for about 40 minutes before another member of his unit came to his rescue.
The video shows the other soldier rappelling down and untangling Chessell’s beard, allowing him to finish the descent on his own. When he reached the ground, he shook his rescuer’s hand. The crowd cheered.
Chessell was not hurt.