Santa John's Irish Wake Is Tonight - NBC Bay Area

Santa John's Irish Wake Is Tonight



    Santa John's Irish Wake Is Tonight
    Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
    Santa John will have an Irish wake tonight at Lefty O'Doul's.

    A longtime San Francisco Santa Claus will receive a final sendoff  this week as friends and fans come together to celebrate his life.

    Lefty O'Doul's will host "an Irish wake befitting 'Santa' John  Toomey" on Friday at 5:30 p.m. that will include food and music, restaurant spokesman Lee  Houskeeper said. Guests are asked to bring an unwrapped toy.

    Toomey, 69, was found dead in his residential hotel room last  Friday afternoon. The cause of his death has not yet been determined. Toomey,  known as "Santa John," was the longtime Santa at Macy's Union Square before  being let go last December for telling dirty jokes to adult patrons.

    Lefty O'Doul's quickly hired Toomey, whose story made national  news and earned him an appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

    Although Toomey didn't have any family in the region, he became  close with a number of news reporters in the area, some of whom will play  music at his memorial, Houskeeper said.

    Among them will be Kevin Fagan from the San Francisco Chronicle,  Joe Rosato, Jr. from NBC Bay Area and some "musically challenged reporters"  from KGO and KPIX, Houskeeper said.

    Barry "The Fish" Melton of the band Country Joe and the Fish will  also be at O'Doul's to celebrate Toomey's life.

    In Irish fashion, the fare will include corned beef and plenty of  beer.

    The San Francisco Firefighters' Toy Program will be collecting  toys at the event, which begins at 5:30 p.m.

    Houskeeper encourages residents to "come on down, bring a  present."
    With Toomey's help, O'Doul's boosted its annual Christmas Eve toy  drive total from 9,000 toys in 2009 to 15,000 last year.

    Since Toomey's death, parents have sent letters to Lefty O'Doul's  stating they are concerned their children will now think Santa is dead.

    To keep his legend alive, Houskeeper said that at the memorial,  Lefty O'Doul's will display the throne Toomey sat in while playing Santa with  a banner above it that reads, "Santa John's gone to the North Pole."

    The 11th Annual San Francisco Firefighters Toy Drive this holiday  season will also be dedicated to Toomey.