By Phil Wahba
November 23, 2015

Santa will be making his big entrance at Staten Island Mall for Christmas after all.

But his fans in the New York City borough will have to wait until next year to see it.

The mall, owned by General Growth Properties (GGP), created a big dust-up when it told customers on its Facebook page that it was canceling its annual Santa’s Arrival Parade, only one year after starting the tradition, and gave no explanation.

Many customers, already angry with the shopping center’s decision to move Santa and his train to another part of the mall for picture-taking with kids, took to Facebook to create a “Boycott Staten Island Mall” page. It already had 15,000 followers by Monday afternoon, many seeing in the incident as the latest manifestation of a perceived “War Against Christmas.”

One man called Mike Carr wrote on the Facebook page: “You should be ashamed of yourselves for using the Christmas season to drive sales, all while sticking Santa out of sight.”

In the inaugural outdoor event last year, the Santa parade drew hundreds of people with activities like musical numbers and Christmas sing-alongs.

While it’s too late to put on the parade this year, Staten Island Mall said on Monday on its Facebook page it had heard customers loud and clear.

The mall, whose anchor tenants are J.C. Penney (JCP), Macy’s (M) and Sears (SHLD), is planning a Christmas celebration (including a tree lighting and toy drive) for December 4.

But a full-on Santa parade will have to wait until 2016, the mall said.

“We heard the disappointment in your shopper feedback regarding the cancelation of the annual Santa Parade,” Staten Island Mall wrote. “We will host the annual Santa Parade next year, and look forward to celebrating treasured traditions and events in the years to come.”

While the contretemps may seem trivial given current world events, it does fit into the perception among some Americans that many retailers and restaurants are toning down the Christmas content of their holiday season activities and marketing so as not to offend non-Christians.

Starbucks (SBUX) witnessed this first hand earlier this month, when it announced its holiday season coffee cups would simply be red with its siren-logo, and nothing else. A few vocal critics said the move illustrated Starbucks’ dismissal of Christmas as a Christian holiday in favor of political correctness.

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