UPDATE: Playground Santa was Salvation Army bell ringer - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: Playground Santa was Salvation Army bell ringer

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WAUSAU (WAOW) -

Wausau Police say a Salvation Army bell ringer dressed as Santa Claus was walking home from his shift when he stopped outside Franklin Elementary School.

School officials say Monday during recess, the man dressed as Santa handed Beanie Babies to students through a fence.

Franklin's principal says a teacher gave the man his Beanie Babies back and asked him to leave. School leaders say he did, without any problems.

"Yesterday (Monday) was very unique in the circumstances, but very routine in how the staff handled it. Got the kids away and then dealt with it from there. We feel real good about the way the staff handled that and how the students responded," sand Franklin Elementary School Principal John Euting.

Salvation Army leaders say they're not happy about what happened.

"It's very unusual for this to happen and sometimes these activities and behaviors are red flags for us," said Salvation Army Lt. Melinda Tripp.

That's why they say the man won't be a bell ringer anymore.

"That is not normal for a bell ringer to hand out toys of any sort," said Tripp. “Most people don't usually dress as Santa actually."

Wausau Police say they don't believe the man meant any harm. They say they told the man to get permission if he wanted to hand out toys again. In the meantime, Franklin school officials are using this as a learning tool.

"The first graders just finished about a 15-minute presentation with Officer Cornell, again, reinforcing how to handle strangers and how to keep themselves safe and why they shouldn't speak to people on the outside of the fence," said Euting.

Even if the person on the other side is Santa.

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