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After more than a century, march of Santas comes to end

Published On: Dec 24 2013 04:48:04 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 26 2013 09:02:36 AM CST
March of the Santas in New York

Adrees Latif/Reuters

The man -- or rather, men -- in the red suit won't be marching along New York's Fifth Avenue the day after Thanksgiving this year. After more than a century, the Sidewalk Santa Parade put on by the Volunteers of America-Greater New York is being retired.

The parade of about 50 Santas traditionally collected money from shoppers for a campaign to help families in need buy food during the holiday season, the group's spokeswoman, Rachel Weinstein, told Reuters. It's a tradition that has its roots in a 1896 trip through the streets by Ballington Booth, whose parents founded the Salvation Army, to give hot meals to New York residents.

But the cost of keeping up all those Santa suits has been rising, and it's been getting harder to convince volunteers to venture out into the cold to collect cash, Weinstein told Reuters and The Associated Press.

Since the parade wasn't a hugely effective way of raising money anyway, the group decided to hang up the Santa hats in favor of other fundraising methods. Volunteers of America-Greater New York will instead focus on collecting money from corporate sponsors, private foundations and individual donors, according to the group's website.