It was one job. It was a simple job. All Tony had to do was stand on this sleigh, shout things like "Ho ho ho!" and "Merry Christmas!", and maybe crack the whip a few times. He could do it when he was drunk!

Which he was.

And this was not good. Cole's Department Store had had a Godawful quarter, and the only reason they hadn't had to file for bankruptcy had been that they'd gotten some massive loans. If they couldn't make the Christmas/Boxing Day rush, then there would be foreclosure, debt, and the loss of their company. Those sales rested on their ability to attract customers, which meant they needed to advertise. The biggest ad would be the Cole's Thanksgiving day parade. The star of the show would be Santa Claus. And, unfortunately, their current Saint Nicolas was a walking PR disaster.

And the worst part? He didn't give a damn. The Drunken Old Elf (since he was more Drunken than Jolly at the moment) had only just now decided to try practising his routine. With a weak cry of "on Blitzen!", Tony lazily swung the whip over the plastic reindeer on the float in front of him, completely failing to do anything even remotely impressive.

He couldn't even crack the Goddamn whip!

"Excuse me, I do believe that you're doing it wrong!"

And apparently somebody had noticed. Some old guy in a top coat and fedora. Well, if that man thought that he knew better than the guy whose job it was to actually CRACK the whip, there was only one response that Tony could give.

"Oh yeah? Okay, gramps, let's see YOU try it, then!"

The old man quickly agreed, taking Tony's place on the sleigh, before raising the whip.

Kris Kringle was going to show the young upstart a thing or two about how to PROPERLY crack a whip.

History was about to be made. Santa Claus was abut to become far more than a bedtime story.

"Hyaah!"


CRACK!

"It's all in the wrist, you see", the old man who was currently on the television screen explained, currently not knowing that his actions were being observed by those who had organized this parade in the first place.

Donald Shellhammer turned to face the parade's director, a bemused look on his face. "Your Santa Claus is wearing a topcoat and a fedora," he commented, hoping that she had some idea about just what was going on here. Poor Mr. Shellhammer. His day was bout to go from bad to worse.

The director just looked at the screen in confusion. "that's not my Santa Claus."


Her comment had t be amended just a few hours later. Tony had been caught drinking on the job, and had quickly been replaced. And the new guy? That would be Mr. Kringle. And he was a natural!

"On Dasher, On Dancer! On Prancer and Vixen! On Comet, On Cupid! On Donner and Blitzen! HYAAH!" With a firm cry and a sharp snap of his wrist, the smiling old man started off the 1994 Cole's Thanksgiving Day Parade with an ease born of countless years as a sleigh driver.

Cole's Department Store had replaced a drunk with the best possible man for the job, a Santa Claus whose only requirement for the job was to be himself.

Truly, Christmas 1994 was going to be legendary.