(BLOOMINGTON) - Larry Conder, who has played Santa for 12 years at Bloomington's Fountain Square Mall, will not be wearing his red suit this year.
Conder has had the opportunity to interact with thousands of children throughout the last 20 years and has many stories to share, both surprising and heartwarming.
Though Conder says he enjoyed the experience of being Santa, he will not be returning to Fountain Square Mall this holiday season.
Reasons for the split between Conder and CFC, the company that runs Fountain Square Mall, remain unclear. Conder says the business found a replacement Santa this year and he was never contacted.
CFC representatives could not be reached for comment.
One thing is for certain: there are families that are unhappy to see Conder go and they have rallied to his side. Most expressed disappointment, while others simply refused to return to Fountain Square in his absence.
Now, Conder will suit up once again from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 22 at the 4-H Building at the Monroe County Fairgrounds. There will be no cost to attend or to have pictures taken, but the group is asking for a donation of $5 for each photo. Donations will go to a needy family identified by some teachers or churches in the area.
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