- Associated Press - Monday, January 13, 2014

AURORA, Ill. (AP) - Some Chicago-area Santas who got word they can’t return on the “Polar Express” next year because of a legal dispute gathered over the weekend to say goodbye to the traditional holiday events.

Saturday’s Santa Claus gathering came after Warner Bros. notified dozens of Chicago-area attractions late last year that the just-completed holiday season would be the last time they could use the “Polar Express” name in their long-running holiday events without the company, which owns the “Polar Express” name a hefty licensing fees, the (Aurora) Beacon-News reports (http://bit.ly/19p2eAM ).

After some 70 “Polar Express” attractions in the Chicago area heard from Warner Bros., many said they could not afford the fee and would change rather than pay for a legal battle to keep the name.

In Fox River, the park district’s public relations manager, Jeff Long, said the name would be changed after residents are asked what they think it should be called.

That made for some sad Santas.

“I find it very disappointing that they have taken (the name) away from the children, said Doug White, of Aurora, AKA Santa Claus. “What the Polar Express does for children is just wonderful.”

The Santas did get a ho-ho-ho out of the sight of event organizer John Sullivan holding up what he called a “lump of coal” award that he vowed to send to Warner Bros. corporate office. “I’m sure they will put it in a prominent place there,” he said, as the Santas and others in the crowd at Blackberry Farm’s Polar Express roared and applauded.

The company has explained in their letters to the community that that it believes using the name will mislead people into thinking that Warner Bros. is somehow involved in the holiday events and that their use of the company’s “intellectual property dilutes the distinctiveness of ‘the Polar Express’ property by trading upon the goodwill and reputation which the public associates with the property.”

___

Information from: The Beacon-News, http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/beaconnews