Donors step forward to save Santa

November 4, 2011 2:41:13 PM PDT
Santa's gotten an early gift. Officials said there is no money in the budget to pay a man $660 for playing Santa at a general store run by the county.

Officials already are considering layoffs for 750 employees to help close an estimated $135 million budget gap.

Donors have stepped forward to keep Santa Claus on the job at a Long Island landmark after he was given the pink slip. A radio station and Babylon Supervisor and Democratic County Executive Candidate Steve Bellone were among those Friday who said they would pay the $660 salary for David McKell to portray Santa at a county-supported general store in St. James.

The 83-year-old Huntington Station resident has played Santa Claus for Suffolk County children for nine years.

Built in 1857, the St. James General Store is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was operated privately for decades until Suffolk took it over in 1990.