Santa Claus is coming to town, but not in Tiananmen Square

08:39, December 14, 2010      

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About one hundred people in Santa Claus outfits were booted out of Tiananmen Square Saturday as they posed for a group picture.

"China stole my Christmas," one drunken Santa yelled as he headed toward the exit of the square.

During the previous two years, police allowed the mostly foreign crowd of holiday revelers to enter the square at the symbolic heart of China without incident, questioning only how they knew each other and whether they had any religious affiliation.

This year's event began the same way, except guards confiscated any liquor at the square's security checkpoints.

Some Santas gave candy to children while scores of entertained Chinese tourists posed with the Santas for photos. But when the Santas assembled for a group shot before leaving for the next phase of the pub-crawl, police demanded they disperse.

"You are causing a social disturbance, leave the square now," an officer said.

Police also demanded to see the passports of two people in Santa outfits shooting video outside the public restrooms north of the square.
"We're just here to spread good will and merriment," said one organizer, while another organizer was asking for donations to buy heating coal for a school for migrant children.

The disorganized and possibly inebriated Santas, led by a dreadlocked Chinese Santa with a megaphone, attempted to freeze in place for a group photo outside the Drum Tower.

However, there was no signal to unfreeze, so the Santas slowly started moving again after a couple of minutes of confusion, and continued on to a Houhai bar.

By Hao Ying, Global Times
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