MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (WHTM) – A local Santa house, a staple for tree lighting ceremonies over the years, is closing after sexual abuse allegations have surfaced.
According to the mayor, five of the seven borough council members arrived at a meeting on Tuesday and voted 3-2 in favor of removing the Santa house, which is now in storage.
The house was previously used as a place where children could visit Santa and deliver letters to his mailbox.
“I commented a couple years ago to the mayor, that whatever happened to the Santa house? Because it was such a great event in downtown. So I think that kind of started him doing a little research to track down where is the Santa house and it was brought back then,” said Carol Kupp, co-owner of Kuppy’s Diner.
The Santa house returned and was rebuilt in 2016, a part of the borough’s tree lighting ceremony until the discovery of sexual abuse allegations while the structure was privately owned.
The previous Santa house owner was accused of sexually abusing several children. The father of an alleged victim said his daughter was molested as a child in the house.
“The feeling was that maybe this is not the Santa house for Middletown,” Middletown Borough Council member Ellen Willenbecher said.
Several members of the community, including the mayor, are currently working to build a new Santa house in time for the annual tree lighting ceremony Nov. 30.
“I don’t want a situation where the children of this town do not have a Santa house for them to visit on that night. So if it means that my entire weekend, or every weeknight as it was four years ago, is eaten up attempting to bring that back to this town, I will do it,” Mayor James Curry said.