An ambulance rushed to the North Tonawanda Walmart last Saturday afternoon after witnesses reported Santa Claus down in the parking lot.
It could have been worse. It might have been a zombie.
It turned out Santa suffered a five-stitch cut over the eye after doing a faceplant following a wardrobe malfunction.
Santa was being portrayed by Scott Schultz, 58, of the Town of Niagara, who has been playing Santa at local events since he was 18 years old. These days, he even grows a real Santa-like beard to augment his red costume.
He is a member of Terror Technologies, also known as the home of Buffalo Zombies for Charity. Their slogan: "We play dead so others may live." Normally, the members make up as zombies and collect donations at assorted charity fundraisers, including for food pantries, about two dozen times a year.
"This is our only non-blood activity," said another member, Chris McKay, as he and colleague Tracy Selbert manned the Salvation Army toy barrel in Santa hats in front of Walmart after relieving Schultz.
Schultz said he had just completed a four-hour bell-ringing shift in his Santa suit outside the store entrance and was walking to his car when the belt on his costume fell down to his ankles.
"I reached over to pick it up and my weight got too far forward and I just fell forward," said Schultz, who retired two years ago as a biomedical specialist at Buffalo General Medical Center.
Schultz was stitched up at DeGraff Memorial Hospital in North Tonawanda, where a CAT scan showed he did not suffer a concussion. This was his first Santa-related injury in 40 years of ho-ho-ho-ing.
"I have never collected a single penny (for playing Santa)," Schultz said. "Santa Claus to me is supposed to be free. It's free for the kids, so it's always been free."