THE SANTA Bus had to finish its route early after Father Christmas was hit in the face by a pack of sweets.

The fundraising open-top bus, which tours Brighton and Hove every year covered in festive lights, was targeted with the sweets in Wish Road, Hove, on Saturday evening after a confrontation between a man and a small number of teenagers.

One witness said a dispute arose between the man and some youths which led to him having his hat knocked off in front of his family.

The Santa Bus gave the family a lift home and the route was cut short.

Elsa Gillio, who was on the top deck, said the incident “ruined” the night for children and lost money for the bus, which collects donations on its route.

Elsa said: “It was due to a few teenagers who were determined to ruin the truly wonderful magical experience for families who came out to see the bus and those who stayed indoors waving out of their windows.

“To see the pleasure the bus brings to the little people and those not so little is always a highlight of the year. The generosity of people who donate money for local charities is a blessing and warmly received, particularly in these difficult times.

The Argus: Santa was hit in the fact by the sweets while standing on top of the bus Santa was hit in the fact by the sweets while standing on top of the bus

“Shame on these teenagers who thought it would be funny to disrupt the magical experience Brighton and Hove Buses provide for the young and not so young residents of our city. They are definitely on Santa’s naughty list.”

Elsa, who co-ordinated the Argus Appeal which set up the Santa Bus with Brighton and Hove Buses 17 years ago, said the team dealt with the incident well.

They thought it was right to cancel the remainder of the visit on Saturday evening as a one off, due to what happened, but the Santa Bus is now back on its rounds as usual.

She said: “The Brighton and Hove Buses team dealt with the issue swiftly and efficiently as you would expect. Sadly, this meant cancelling the few streets we had yet to visit.”

The Argus understands there was a large group of teenagers present, but only a few were involved in the incident.

The Argus: The incident happened next to Wish Park, Hove The incident happened next to Wish Park, Hove

A Brighton and Hove Buses spokeswoman said: "The Santa Bus spreads so much joy and happiness, so it was a real shame that the evening was brought to end early because of the behaviour of a very small group of people.

"Sussex Police attended the scene, and it was agreed to finish early for the evening and then the Santa Bus drove the family home. We want to thank the family for their assistance.

"We are very sorry to everyone who were disappointed and look forward to Santa Claus being able to get out on the bus again. Santa would like to thank everyone who comes out to give him a wave and for all the generous donations made to the local Santa Bus charities.

"Thank you also to Sussex Police for their assistance. We look forward to getting the Santa Bus back on route again this week."

A Sussex Police spokesman said: "Police were called over reports of a disturbance involving youths throwing items at a bus near Wish Park, Hove, at 7.20pm on Saturday, December 4.

"Officers completed a search of the area but the group had dispersed."

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