A ‘Santa Wars’ has broken out in Wisbech as plans for a second grotto were criticised over fears that two father Christmases would confuse kids.
For the past eight years the Wisbech Lions have hosted a Santa’s Grotto at the annual Christmas Fayre in the town’s market place.
However, this year Wisbech Town Council announced it was launching its own rival grotto at Wisbech Castle just 400 feet away.
The announcement prompted criticism from some Lions who claimed that having two Santas in the town so close together would ‘confuse children’.
They initially asked the council to back off.
Local councillor Steve Tierney admitted their grotto plans “seem to have accidentally upset Wisbech Lions in the process”.
He said: “The Lions feel that there being a Santa’s grotto at the castle as well as the Santa they are going to have will confuse children.
“They have asked us to withdraw our grotto from the event.”
Cllr Tierney posted on a community Facebook page and asked for opinions from local residents.
The post read: “It is important to note that we greatly respect the Wisbech Lions and everything they do.
“They are a brilliant group and we have no interest in upsetting them.
“However, we didn’t think they had any rights to the use of Santa at Christmas, we didn’t think our grotto would do them any major harm as there is already another one at the Institute anyway and we have advertised the event and gone some way towards organising it, including buying the gifts for Santa to give the children.
“We would appreciate your views on this. It’s a tough one.
“We certainly don’t want to upset the brilliant Lions.
“But we cannot agree if this is a reasonable request for them to make or not.”
One resident said: “I think it’s extremely rude as they (The Lions) do it every year for you and you’ve never needed to have a separate grotto any other year.
“Also, no Santa will be as good as the Lion’s Santa; he is the most genuine one I’ve seen.”
But another said: “Proceed, it’s ridiculous to complain about a little thing like this. Most towns have more than one Santa.
“Kids understand generally that ‘Grotto Santa’ is not the real one....smaller children wouldn’t even compute if it’s the same one or not...go for it.”
The council plans to go ahead with their own grotto which will be held in the castle on December 8.
The Wisbech Lions have softened their stance and now say “there’s always room for more than one Santa in Wisbech” and said they are not in competition.
A Wisbech Lions spokesman said: “We want to make it perfectly clear that there is always room for more than one Santa in Wisbech or wherever else.
“No one has the monopoly on a myth.
“Obviously we are extremely happy to have a member who loves his job at Christmas.”
The Wisbech Lions, which is a volunteer-ran group, hosted Father Christmas at the town’s light switch-on last Sunday and will do so again at their annual Christmas market.
Santa’s grotto at Wisbech Castle will give children the chance to meet and chat with Santa, Scrooge and Christmas elves as well as having a café with lots of Christmas treats.
The rival Christmas Fayre by the Lions, however, boasts a market with over 100 stalls and attractions, street entertainers, live reindeer and Santa’s Grotto.
Both events will be held on December 8.