Last elves fired from Santa's HQ
HELSINKI (Reuters) - The last three worker elves at Father Christmas's official headquarters in Finland's Arctic have been fired as Santa Park grapples with its finances.
"It is really unfortunate that we had to fire them, but there is just no work," said Wille Rajala, the park's fourth director since it opened in 1998. "The person who has been called the head elf... still works for Santa Park."
Lack of visitors has meant that the number of Santa's little helpers is now down to two, a far cry from plans to employ 120 staff on a monthly wage when the park opened.
Some 800 km (500 miles) north of Helsinki, this is where letters addressed just "To Santa" arrive. The elves were supposed to help Santa and guide visitors around the park.
"During these five years (Santa Park) has been able to employ a fraction of the 120 staff for a maximum of three months (a year), usually for about eight weeks," Rajala said, adding the sacked elves had been on temporary leave since last August.
Santa Park made its first operating profit last year, but the company's bottom line remained in the red as it still has annual costs of some 400,000 euros (267,280 pounds) related to the initial construction of the park to pay for the next 15 years.
"It is unfortunate that the illusion that was once created has been shattered, but now it's time to look reality in the eyes and (decide) whether we want Santa Park to rise... My contract says: put things in order," Rajala said.
The Kerry campaign has just released the following statement:
"The firing of this elf is yet again proof that the Bush Administration's policies are wrong. Wrong for the working class, wrong for America, and wrong for the families of Elves. Under my plan, these Elves would get a tax cut and have access to more affordable health care. How many more Christmases have to be ruined before we vote Bush out of office?"