Monday, December 27, 2010

The Dark Side of Christmas Lights

While researching in the New York Times I came across a story about a man dressed as Santa Claus who was badly burned when he stepped too close to a Christmas tree and a candle ignited his costume. From reading old accounts I knew that people used real candles to decorate their trees and the danger of that was immediately obvious, but I began to wonder how rare these Santa accidents were. I was surprised to find out they were not very rare at all.


25 December 1879. Paris, Kentucky.
Frederick R. Jaynes was fatally burned when his Santa Claus costume caught fire from a lighted taper at the residence of J. H. Bassett.

25 December 1882. Montgomery, New York. 
George Smedes was painfully burned when his Santa Claus wig caught fire at the Academy Hall.

24 December 1888. Boston, Massachusetts. 
T. D. Roberts received severe burns when his Santa Claus costume was ignited by a candle on the Christmas tree at the Boston Industrial Temporary Home where he was Superintendent. He is not expected to recover.

26 December 1888. Geneva, Illinois. 
John M. Stillwell was fatally burned when his Santa Claus costume caught fire from a candle at a church festival.

26 December 1889. Bourbon, Illinois. 
Samuel Beardsley was seriously burned when his Santa Claus costume caught fire at the town's Christmas festival. He is not expected to live.

2 January 1890. Brooklyn, New York. 
James E. Manson, 26, died from burns received when his Santa Claus costume was ignited by a candle on the Christmas tree at the home of his brother-in-law, John Ramsey.

28 December 1893. Mount Vernon, New York. 
Mrs. C. M. McLean, wife of Col. C. M. McClean and a niece of the late Col. George W. McLean, was badly burned when her Santa Claus costume was ignited by the candles on the Christmas tree in Willard Hall.

24 December 1894. Hoboken, New Jersey. 
Edward Beyer was burned when his Santa Claus costume was ignited by a candle on the CHristmas tree at the home of his brother-in-law, Frederick Gunkel.

25 December 1894. Fairlown, New Jersey. 
Reading (Pennsylvania) High School teacher Charles S. Foos was severely burned when his false Santa Claus beard was ignited by a candle on the Christmas tree at the home of his fiancee, Miss. Marie Demarest.

18 January 1895. New York, New York. 
Edward L. Pratt died in St. Mark's Hospital as a result of burns received Christmas night when his Santa Claus costume was ignited by a wax candle on the Christmas tree.

25 December 1895. Parkersburg, West Virginia. 
Clyde Farnsworth was burned to death when his Santa Clause costume caught fire at a Christmas party when a guest playfully threw a lighted match at him.

25 December 1896. North Attleboro, Massachusetts. 
Deacon Edward Southerland of the Baptist Church was seriously burned when his huge bushy beard was ignited by a candle on the Christmas tree as he played Sata Claus at the Christmas festival.

6 December 1897. Trenton, New Jersey. 
Josephine Wagner, a domestic servant employed by Col. A. R. Kuser, was badly, perhaps fatally, burned when her Santa Claus costume caught fire from an open grate.

21 December 1900. New York, New York. 
Carrie Hanley, 14, was horribly burned with little chance of recovery when her Santa Clause costume caught fire by going too near a lighted gas jet at Public School 44 in North Moore Street. Also burned, though not severely, was Veronica Schwab, 10, who was dressed as Mrs. Claus. Carrie died on 22 December in the Hudson Street Hospital.

22 December 1900. Bellevill, New Jersey. 
Leroy Sargent, 14, was seriously burned at Public School #1 when his Santa Claus costume was ignited by a light on the Christmas tree.

27 December 1901. Summit, New Jersey. 
Bert Underwood, a prominent missionary of the Baptist Church in America, was badly, if not fatally, burned when his Santa Claus costume was ignited by a spark from a lamp.

25 December 1901. Oldtown, Maryland. 
John Carder, Jr., was probably fatally burned when, as he left for the church, a young man playfully held a lighted match to his back igniting his Santa Clause costume

23 December 1904. Southbury, Connecticut. 
Burritt M. Tuttle, Judge of the Town Court, was severely burned when his false Santa Claus beard caught fire from the Christmas tree candles in the Methodist Church.

26 December 1904. Peterstown, New Jersey. 
John Signora was hospitalized in a serious condition when his Santa Claus costume was ignited by an exploding cigar given to him by a friend as a joke.

26 December 1905. Houston, Texas. 
W. H. Osborne was badly burned when his Santa Claus costume caught fire as his distributed present for his neighborhood. He is not expected to live.

26 December 1905. Houston, Texas. 
Sid A. Anderson was burned with his false Santa Claus beard was ignited as he lit the candles on his Christmas tree. It is believed he will recover.

23 December 1905. Leicester, Massachusetts. 
Leicester Academy assistant teacher Alfred M. Frye was dangerously burned when his Santa Claus disguise touched a candle and flashed into flame.

25 December 1906. Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 
Miss Ella Sudflow died when her long Santa Claus coat was ignited by the candles on the Christmas tree.

24 December 1908. Denton, New York. 
Henry Campbell was severely burned when the candles on the Christmas tree in the village schoolhouse caught his long white whiskers on fire.

24 December 1910. Albion, New York. 
Schoolboys Charles Anderson and Peter Groce were seriously burned at the Hindsburg schoolhouse when their Santa Claus and Jack Frost costumes caught fire.

21 August 1921. Ferndale, New York. 
Mrs. Bessie Jacobs was badly burned when the paper Santa Claus costume she wore to a masked ball caught fire on the lighted candle she wore.