My Favorite Arizona Christmas Story!
This historian that we have in our church congregation (ward) told this “True Story” in church yesterday. He said his mom was here in Mesa Arizona when this happened.
In 1932 a man named John McPhee was the editor of the Mesa Journal-Tribune. As a businessman he wanted to devise a plan to get more people shopping and spending money in the City of Mesa. Keep in mind that in 1932, Mesa was a tiny place.
John McPhee hired a skydiver (a real novelty in 1932) to jump from an airplane dressed as Santa Claus! He ran ads and invited people from all around to come see Santa jump from an airplane and then lead the Christmas parade down the streets of Mesa. Since he was a newspaper man, he advertised and invited everyone from neighboring communities… Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe and Phoenix to come to Mesa that day. He hyped it up and was quite excited when people started showing up and lining the streets to watch Santa jump from the sky.
As people started lining up for the parade, Mr. McPhee found out something quite disturbing. He found out that the skydiver that he had hired had had quite a few too many “spirits” and was too drunken to jump from an airplane! Well, he quickly thought of another plan. He knew a store owner that had a Santa mannequin. They quickly borrowed the mannequin and had the pilot drop the fake Santa out at the edge of town. Mr McPhee thought he could then run in and lead the parade and all would be well.
To his demise or surprise, when the mannequin was pushed from the plane, the parachute did not open. The pretend Santa fell and fell and fell and hit into a field – splat! Everyone was screaming and the kids were crying. Needless to say, there were not any shoppers in Mesa that day!
To make things worse, the AP news picked up the story and sent it nationwide. John McPhee left town for a few days and was then known for years as the man that had killed Christmas in Mesa, AZ!
This is My Favorite Arizona Christmas Story!