A drunken Santa Claus prompts a mom to call 911 after he stumbles into her yard apparently looking for his reindeer and scaring her kids.
Officers ticketed 55-year-old Thomas Arnold of Sparta for having an open beer in a car. The man driving that car, 47-year-old Kevin Arnold, was arrested for OWI.
But, the kids say they knew right away this Santa was a hoax.
"He smelled like alcohol. So I knew it wasn't the real Santa because Santa doesn't drink alcohol," says 9-year-old Katie Dockerty.
Katie says the Santa that ended up in her lawn was loud and had really dirty hands. She says he tried to put his hat on her little sister. Six-year-old Zoe describes him in one word: “Drunk."
"He was yelling at them 'have you seen my reindeer? If you see my reindeer, call me right away,’" says Tina Reinart, the girls’ mom.
Reinart called the police instead.
"He thought he was spreading good cheer and in some lights he may have been,” says Sparta Police Chief Mike Kass with a little chuckle. “I don't think Mr. Arnold had any ill intent; I believe his level of intoxication probably impaired his judgment."
Chief Kass says Arnold was on his way home from a party. He says now-a-days parents have to be careful with everyone: That includes Santa.
"This time of year everyone wants to see Santa Claus, but nobody wants to see an intoxicated Santa Claus,” Kass says. “I hope the lesson learned is don't overindulge and only approach those children you know."
"I didn't really want him by me because I was really scared," Katie tells us.
But, for one little girl and her gang of friends, one bad Santa isn't enough to ruin the season.
"It's a nice holiday to spend on Christmas,” Katie says. “Santa gives you candy canes. It's nice.”
The kids' dad was outside with them when Santa came into the yard Sunday afternoon. They all agree it's one of the strangest things they've seen.