No doubt you have by now heard about the “fat-shaming” Santa in North Carolina who reportedly told a 9-year-old boy to “lay off the burgers and fries” after the boy had sat on his lap for a picture.
That Santa, Earl Crowder, resigned his position as the annual Santa for the small town of Forest City and issued an apology to the boy and his family, but according to The Charlotte News & Observer, the story didn’t end there, and actually took quite a sad turn.
It turns out that Crowder has been hospitalized since Wednesday following the incident that made international news and brought shame upon him, reportedly for a blood clot in his lung.
In an interview with WLOS, Crowder’s niece, Kelly Butler, stated, “He woke up having trouble breathing and ended up having to go the hospital, and he’s still there.”
She also expressed his deep sadness following the purported “fat-shaming” incident, saying, “He was very heartbroken. In fact, his first thoughts, he wanted to cut his hair and shave his beard.”
Kelly believed it could have been the pain he was feeling from the clot in his lung that prompted him to make the snide remark to the boy in the first place, noting that all people occasionally have a “slip of the tongue and we regret it and we say, ‘I’m sorry.’”
But it would also appear that Crowder and his niece aren’t the only ones sad that his days playing Santa Claus are over, something he has reportedly been doing for four decades, 12 years in Forest City.
More so than just playing Santa in the town’s Christmas display, Crowder also worked as a real-life Santa in his daily life, buying toys for needy children and helping out elderly patients in nursing homes.
As such, some members of the community have rallied around him, setting up a Facebook page to offer their support for the typically friendly and generous town Santa.
“This page was created to show our LOVE & SUPPORT for our local SANTA. He has brought so much HAPPINESS to so many people throughout our community we just want to show him the LOVE that he has shown us,” read a post from page creator Sunshine McCurry.
The page also noted that Crowder was showing some improvement and felt blessed from the outpouring of love and support he has received.
Hopefully he will recover and eventually return to his post as the town Santa, though he may want to keep any further snide comments about the weight of the children he sees to himself from now on.
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