QUIRKY WORLD: A daily look at some of the world's stranger stories

Town in a Santa tizzy as children see double

ENGLAND: A Santa Claus was told to stop entertaining children in a town centre amid fears that they would be “traumatised” by the sight of two Father Christmases in the same high street.

Colin Letchford, chairman of the Friends of Concord Beach charity, had donned the red suit and white beard during the Christmas lights switch-on in Canvey Island, Essex.

The group claims he was told to pack up by an official because of fears that the arrival of Canvey Rotary Club’s Santa sleigh could confuse and upset children. In a letter to the Castle Point Echo, Barry and Dot Palmer, from Friends of Concord Beach, described the incident as a “sad state of affairs”.


ENGLAND: Two cats are responsible for a mini crime spree in the east of England, the BBC has reported.

Christmas is a gift for Theo, a three-year-old Siamese cross belonging to Rachael Drouet and Paul Edwards from Ipswich, Suffolk. He is a seasoned cat burglar, regularly bringing home “treasures” from neighbours’ houses.

He has forsaken his usual diet of clothing, phone chargers, and other cats’ toys for a selection of Christmas decorations which his owners believe he is pilfering from neighbours’ trees.

And in Luton, Bedfordshire, Denis, a three-year-old pet whose cat burgling antics have been well-documented online, has been bringing home gifts of Christmas wrapping paper — minus the contents.


USA: The US air defence “santa tracker” programme logged 19.58m visitors to its website on Christmas Eve.

The North American Aerospace Defence Command said volunteers answered 117,371 calls from children seeking information on Santa’s progress. US First Lady Michelle Obama was among the programme’s 1,200 volunteers.

The tradition of tracking Santa began in 1955 when a local newspaper advert invited children to call Santa but mistakenly listed the hotline of the command’s predecessor.


USA: A computer glitch gave some Delta Air Lines travellers a welcome Christmas present. Some fares on Delta’s website and others were showing up incorrectly, offering bargain- hunters an incredible deal.

A round-trip flight between Cincinnati and Minneapolis for February was being sold for just $25.05 (€18.20) and a round-trip between Cincinnati and Salt Lake City for $48.41 (€35.17). The correct price for both is over $400 (€290).

A spokesman for the airline said the problem has been fixed but “Delta will honour any fares purchased at the incorrect price”.


USA: A 45ft tall Christmas tree at an open-air mall in Las Vegas went up in flames and burned Santa’s cottage.

Fire crews found flames reaching 100ft in the air when they arrived at Town Square at about 2am on Christmas morning. The fire also damaged a house where children posed for pictures with Santa.

Firefighters were quickly able to extinguish the blaze, and nobody was hurt. Clark County Fire Chief Jon Klassen told the Las Vegas Review- Journal that faulty wiring in the tree could be to blame.


USA: Shoppers looking for post-Christmas bargains got a surprise at a Pennsylvania sporting goods store after a deer decided to join them.

WFMZ-TV says the deer walked through the front door of a Dick’s Sporting Goods store in Reading on Thursday afternoon. Store manager Brad Meyer says the deer slipped on the floor and a customer tackled it to the ground, preventing any injuries to customers or damage.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission later removed the deer.


Louisa Earls is a manager at Books Upstairs, D’Olier St, Dublin, which is owned by her father, Maurice Earls.Virus response writes a new chapter for Books Upstairs

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