KIDS were left frightened and parents fuming after a shopping centre used a parade of “terrifying” robot-style reindeer instead of Santa’s Grotto.
Bosses at Meadowhall Shopping Centre in Sheffield wanted to try something different but the result left kids running for the exit.
The figures were created by Andy Brunskill and Jimmy Grimes – who originally worked on the award-winning West End hit War Horse.
But the Santa’s Reindeer Puppet Parade hasn’t gone down well with mums and dads who say their children were frightened.
Celia Pritchard added: “My four-year-old was terrified!” while Samantha Bruce added: “My son wasn’t impressed with the reindeer at all, he was actually a scared.”
Holly Whitehead said: “Looks like a friggin’ AT-AT from Star Wars! I cannot believe this has replaced Santa’s grotto! Shame on you Meadowhall! Where’s the Christmas spirit in that?!”
Jade Walker said: “That’s it? I mean come on, you can see their legs. Fancy getting rid of Santa’s grotto for that.”
Others were furious that their annual tradition of seeing Santa had been taken away from them.
Helen Pettinger Gallagher said: “Disgusting that there is no Santa’s grotto. It’s what we do with our grandchildren every year, we have them all together and take them to Meadowhall to see Santa for the last 11 years.”
Catherine Caswell said: “Don’t see how this is better than a grotto. I personally will not be shopping at Meadowhall this Christmas. I will go somewhere that has a grotto for my daughter.”
Becca Spencer said: “Terrible idea. Wondered how they were going to cordon it off. No music. Not worth abandoning the grotto for.”
Jackie Higgins said: “Sorry but looks a bit naff. All I see are a couple of skins thrown over a metal frame.”
Rebecca Bartholomew said: “What the f**k is that?! Looks like one of the reindeer from The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
But centre managers defended the parade, saying it was free and still included Santa.
A spokesman for the centre said: “As part of the Centre’s £60m transformation, Meadowhall also evolved its Christmas experience with the introduction of the Santa’s Puppet Reindeer Parade this year to replace the former grotto which had been in place for the past three years.
“The new show still features Santa at the heart of the parade along with the handcrafted puppets.
“Unlike most Christmas activities, the Meadowhall puppet parade is free and there is no need to book with three performances every day running until December 18.
“We are very proud and excited about the new Christmas offering at Meadowhall.”