"Man who killed Santa Claus"--Arizona editor John McPhee
John McPhee was the editor of the Mesa Tribune. In 1932, during the Great Depression the merchants in Mesa needed something special for the Christmas parade. John McPhee came up with a brilliant idea. The idea was to hire a parachutist, have him dress as Santa and jump from an airplane. McPhee hired a parachutist. The parachutist who was playing Santa got drunk the day of the parade, so he was not able to jump. So McPhee borrowed a department store dummy and dressed it in a Santa suit. When the airplane was high enough, the dummy was pushed out while the parachute ripcord was pulled. The parachute did not open so the Santa dummy plummeted to the earth. Children in the watching audience were screaming, "Santa's dead, Santa's dead." McPhee put on a Santa suit and tried to convince the children that Santa was okay but the damage was done. McPhee left town for a few days hoping the episode would be forgotten. It was not forgotten. McPhee was always identified as "The Man who killed Santa Claus."
"1932 editor and Santa had serious falling out." Tucson Citizen. December 25, 2002, Page C1.
Trimble, Marshall. Arizona; a cavalcade of history. Tucson, Ariz.: Treasure Chest Publications. c1989. Pages 257-258.