Stockings stuffed all naughty and nice Even Santa blushes at unfrocked error

December 23, 1992|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,Staff Writer

An error by a volunteer worker at a Fells Point novelty shop has been blamed for the inclusion of an unintended gift for children at a city-sponsored Christmas party in South Baltimore.

Alongside their toy soldier, coloring book and yo-yo, some of the children found unforgettable stocking stuffers -- key chains with pictures of naked women.

The R-rated key chains -- a gold heart-shaped locket and a kaleidoscope, each showing bare-breasted women in various poses -- were mistakenly placed in at least 20 of the 350 stockings by a volunteer worker at State Sales Co., the Fells Point novelty shop.

The stockings were passed out to children ages 5 to 10 by Santa Claus Thursday during the annual Christmas party at the Ella Bailey Recreation Center.

Immediately after seeing the risque trinkets, Santa asked the red-faced employees of the center to censor the stockings, said Jim Dugent, a state employee who was playing Santa during the party.

"One child came up to me and asked for a Playboy," he said. "I said, 'Santa doesn't give out Playboys,' but lo and behold, some things were given out that Santa didn't know about. Accidents happen."

Recreation center officials collected the stockings from the children. Some were redistributed and about 150 stockings were returned to State Sales. Some parents called the mayor's office to complain.

"It was an honest mistake and we're very, very sorry," said Bob Wade, superintendent of the Department of Recreation and Parks. "The parents were shocked, but they're all calmed down now."

A letter of apology was sent to the parents by recreation center officials. Debra Carfrey, general manager of State Sales, also plans to write a letter to the parents, as well as cancel the center's $700 bill.

The key chains were placed in the stockings by Phyllis Wroblewski, who was helping to fill orders during the busy holiday season.

As she was stuffing the stockings, she said, she ran out of plastic lobster-shaped key chains. So she went into the supply room and scooped up a handful of other key chains, not looking too closely.

"I saw the heart and I figured that you would want to put pictures in it," she said.

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