North Carolina Mall Changes Santa Decoration After Torrent of Online Backlash

November 9, 2015 Updated: November 9, 2015

SouthPark mall in Charlotte, N.C., made “a mistake” when it replaced its traditional Christmas tree with a plastic glacier, the company’s president said on Sunday, adding that it would be replaced on Monday.

“It was a mistake, and we had to correct,” Simon Malls President David Contis said, according to the Charlotte Observer. “If we lose money, so be it.”

Shoppers indicated they did not like the new decoration, which involved in replacing a Christmas tree. On social media websites, the backlash was more intense.

The mall originally told the Observer that it’s implementing changes to make Santa “fresh and exciting” by placing him under the glacier, which Contis said cost tens of thousands of dollars to create.

A petition to bring the Christmas tree back garnered more than 19,000 signatures as of Saturday night.

“Southpark Mall and Simons Malls have decided to abandon a long standing tradition of having a Christmas tree in the center of the mall and Christmas tree lighting ceremony,” the petition reads. “We, the community of Charlotte, feel this is in poor taste and needs to be corrected.”

Contis said the decision was made after listening to customer feedback, according to WBTV. “Our focus is on ‘Spreading Love’ which is the theme throughout all of our shopping centers during the holiday season and we are looking forward to celebrating the holidays with our shoppers as we do every year,” Contis said.

Here was the original statement from the mall about the glacier:

SouthPark is thrilled to be among the first wave of Simon centers to receive the new “Glacier” Santa experience. The reinvented and modernized experience will bring the Charlotte community together in a way that hasn’t been done before. Simon values tradition, and that’s exactly why we wanted to refresh and modernize our holiday experience at SouthPark to keep the tradition fresh and exciting. This new experience will delight our shoppers and their families with fun and interactive elements, including a sound and light show every 30 minutes. We’re aiming to create a magical experience – something truly different and fun for families to enjoy together this year and for years to come.