Ageing Santa gets $100,000 facelift for Christmas

WELLINGTON Fri Nov 20, 2009 11:23am EST

Bandages cover the face of a 20-metre (66ft) tall statue of Santa Claus in downtown Auckland November 19, 2009. The 49-year-old statue, which is placed on the busy corner every year, has undergone a NZ$100,000 ($74,000) makeover which will be revealed on Sunday. REUTERS/Fairfax NZ/John Selkirk

Bandages cover the face of a 20-metre (66ft) tall statue of Santa Claus in downtown Auckland November 19, 2009. The 49-year-old statue, which is placed on the busy corner every year, has undergone a NZ$100,000 ($74,000) makeover which will be revealed on Sunday.

Credit: Reuters/Fairfax NZ/John Selkirk

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WELLINGTON (Reuters) - A Santa in New Zealand with a droopy eye has received a NZ$100,000 ($74,000) face-lift in the run-up to Christmas so that his aging face does not scare children.

The 20-meter (66 feet) tall fiberglass Santa has been among the festive decorations in Auckland since 1960 but in recent years began to struggle with one of his eyes that was made to wink and a mechanical figure that moved in a welcoming gesture.

"There was a concern the guy did look a little creepy. It was the finger and the Sad Sack, winking, droopy eye," Heart of the City chief executive Alex Swney told local media.

The Santa, that stands on a street corner in the city center, has undergone extensive facial work over the past four months at a cost of over NZ$100,000.

His face remains bandaged ahead of a public unveiling on Sunday but his mechanical figure has been replaced with a static digit.

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