A gang of about 50 apparently drunken Santas invaded a New Zealand cinema complex at the weekend — frightening customers, damaging property and swearing, the cinema's manager said Monday.
Police believe the Santas were a group of university students dressed in Santa suits who ran amok for 20 seconds through Hoyts Cinema complex in the South Island city of Christchurch on Saturday, manager Derek Rive said.
"As they ran through the complex they wrecked everything they could, the Christmas tree — they bowled everything over ... (they were) just absolute fools," he told The Associated Press.
He said the "hooligans" abused patrons, chanted obscenities, ripped down posters and knocked over cardboard figures advertising films.
"How often do a bunch of Santas just go and wreak havoc?" Rive said. "It was a random act of stupidity" that upset moviegoers.
Security cameras caught the action, but Rive said with their hats, white beards and suits, the rampaging Santas cannot be identified.
‘Santa's helpers gone crazy’
Cinema patron Kate Gorman, 35, was waiting to see the movie "Enchanted" with her two children when the group arrived.
"At least 50 drunk idiots dressed up like Santa came in through the main door," she told local paper the "Christchurch Press."
"They were kicking things over, ripping down posters and smashing everything in sight," Gorman said. "They were all dressed as Santa and shouting `Ho (expletive) ho.'"
Her children, Gabriella, 6, and Jackson, 7, had been confused by the incident.
"They asked me, 'Are they Santa's helpers gone crazy?' and I said `No, they are just idiots,'" she was reported saying.
As they left, the Santas triggered a fire alarm, forcing several hundred patrons to evacuate the complex for half an hour.
It wasn't the first time a marauding horde of drunken Santas has terrorized New Zealand. In December 2005, a group of 40 people dressed in Santa Claus costumes, many of them drunk, rampaged through Aukland, robbing stores and assaulting security guards.
The rampage was dubbed “Santarchy” by local newspapers.