Tree-dwelling Santa snatched from post


POSTED: Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Santa Claus, known to frequent Wailuku Banyan Tree Park, disappeared Friday morning and has not been seen since. He may have been abducted, some area residents believe.

Santa is 5 feet tall and weighs about 20 pounds — although he looks much heavier. He has a white beard, a tan complexion and was wearing a red and white hat and a red suit.

“;We have a Grinch over here,”; said John Stan Rippy, who donated the mannequin in December 2007 to the Wailuku Community Association.

Santa made his first appearance off to the side of the banyan, but this year was placed inside the tree at Vineyard and Market streets in Wailuku.

Rippy had added some pigment to his skin to make him a Hawaiian Santa.

“;We screwed him down, and we wired him up,”; he said. “;We made him theft-proof.”;

Or so he thought.

A sign said: “;Please leave Santa in the tree for the children.”;

Rippy saw Santa Friday morning, but when he drove past 20 minutes later at about 10:45 a.m., Santa was gone. “;What gets me was this was in broad daylight,”; he said.

When Rippy reported the disappearance to police, he said, one officer joked, “;Once we get the ransom note, we'll do something about it.”;

Anyone with information is asked to call Maui police at 244-6400 and press 0.