Friday, March 11, 2005

Brou-ho-ho ensues over statue of Santa

"It is possible that in the land of tens of thousands of public statues, not everyone fully appreciated the bronze Santa Claus sent from Russia with love.

Five years ago, the Russian government donated a life-size statue of St. Nicholas to Demre, a port town in southern Turkey where 1,600 years ago the saint whose name has become synonymous with Santa Claus lived, worked and died. The statue stood in the town center outside the Church of St. Nicholas until recently, when the denizens of Demre decided that the Russian Santa "had completed its mission," in the words of the local mayor.

The Russian Santa was removed and a new Santa installed, with a new look--straight out of the dime-store greeting-card genre, in candy-cane colors."

"One night the statue was removed and replaced with a caricatured, commercialized, cheap thing," said Muammer Karabulut, chairman of the Santa Claus Foundation. "We are offended."

A group of Russian intellectuals has appealed to Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer in an open letter for help in getting the statue back on its pedestal.

"This is shameful behavior," said the sculptor, Gregory Potosky, in the Turkish papers. "Is this what you do with a gift?" | CELEBRITY NEWS

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