ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED THURSDAY, JULY 5, 2012: Santa’s helpers are finally back working at the North Pole. The Waldo Canyon Fire not only threatened the Colorado Christmas landmark, but shut it down for over a week, costing the attraction big money.
“One day in the summer is bad enough, eight days, it's a lot,” said owner Tom Haggard.
Employees are thankful they still have jobs, but even more grateful for the dose of Christmas magic they received.
Haggard still paid his 120 employees for the eight days they weren’t allowed to work, because of the evacuations. He says it was simply the right thing to do.
"You just don't need to add to it, you need to do what you can to try to make it better in what little way you can,” Haggard said.
Employee Carol Reppenhagen says she was surprised by the generosity of her boss, but says it’s a habit she has seen over the years. She’s worked at Santa’s Workshop since 1995.
“I was overjoyed; that was really unexpected. He wasn't making any money, and it was out of his control as well as out of ours,” Reppenhagen said.
Haggard says their paycheck was the last thing his shaken-up evacuated employees needed to deal with.
“It hit them awful hard; they were all worried about losing their homes, losing their job, lots of things. And I felt that the last thing they need to worry about was their finances; they already had enough stress,” Haggard said.
Haggard's family has owned and operated the theme park for 56 years and say they have never come across a situation like this.
“An act of kindness employees say show that the giving spirit of Santa never takes a holiday,” Haggard said.
Haggard is also giving his employees $20 each to spend in Manitou Springs Tuesday night.
The goal is to help boost the struggling economy of the fire threatened small town and he encourages others to pitch in.