A man wearing a Santa suit and waving a handgun robbed a Sun Trust bank this week in Hermitage, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville.  He stuffed the money surrendered by bank tellers into a red Santa bag and fled from a nearby church parking lot in a gray car.

“I don’t remember a Santa doing that,” Metro police spokesman Kristin Mumford told The Tennessean.  Mumford said bank robbers lean more toward sweatshirts and sunglasses or the occasional Halloween mask.

Mere coincidence, perhaps, but just a few hours later a reindeer ran amuck inside a Publix store in East Lake, Florida.  Publix employees wrestled the scared creature to the floor after it ran headlong into a pet supply display.  Publix customers burst into applause when the animal was lifted up and carried out of the store, according to tampabay.com. The deer was released into a local nature preserve.

Grinch arrested: Good news from that church in Violet, Louisiana, where someone stole Christmas gifts meant for needy children from underneath a large crucifix.  Not only has a suspect been arrested with most of the 65 missing gifts in his possession, but Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church received nearly 1,500 additional gifts and cash donations from people across the country who had heard about the theft.  “It was like a death when someone stole all our stuff, but three days later it’s like the Resurrection, and it’s all new life,” Rev. John Arnone, who leads the church, told The Times-Picayune.

Scrooging? What sounded like a goofy idea — suing the federal government over the Senate version of the health care bill — is getting Republican legs.  South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster concedes that he and at least nine other Republican attorneys general may have to wait to see if the bill actually becomes law before taking legal action against what Alabama Attorney General Troy King calls the “Nebraska Compromise.”  That is the Senate deal that exempted Nebraska from $100 million in new Medicaid costs in exchange for Sen. Ben Nelson’s vote.  Unconstitutional, say McMaster, King and the AGs of Texas, Virginia, North Dakota, Colorado, Washington, Pennsylvania, Utah and Michigan.  Georgia’s Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue has asked his attorney general to join the fight.  One problem:  Thurbert Baker, who is running to succeed Perdue, is a Democrat.

Christmas Dew Droplets: Two Waffle House waitresses in Franklin, Tennessee, split a $400 tip left by four men who ordered only coffee … High-water fears abated, the long tradition of lighting bonfires for Papa Noel along the Mississippi River resumed in Louisiana, where Warren Swenson, author of “Boudreaux the Bright Red Crawfish,” tells schoolchildren that Santa summers in the bayou … If you’re having a white Christmas, the Tennessee Department of Transportation has a suggestion for finding your way:  beet juice.  According to TDOT spokeswoman Julie Oaks, “The tacky nature of the beet juice helps adhere the salt to the roadways better, which helps us remove the snow and ice more quickly, and reduce salt water and costs” … The Commercial Appeal reports that many Memphis atheists celebrate Christmas … Josef Mohr, namesake and descendant of the Austrian priest who wrote “Silent Night,” is a soda jerk at a bowling alley in Nags Head, North Carolina … In Kentucky, a man with five children in his car was arrested for drunken driving after his car swerved and clipped a few lights inside the MEGA Cavern Lights Under Louisville display … OK, maybe it wasn’t really a Christmas event, but the mayor of Taylor, Alabama, was arrested this week  — Christmas week — while allegedly having sex with a woman in a car outside a Waffle House in Dothan, in full view of customers.

Ron Taylor

Ron Taylor

Ron Taylor was born and raised in Georgia and worked more than 40 years at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a reporter and editor and as an online producer for ajc.com and AccessAtlanta. He served for a time as the newspaper's regional editor, overseeing coverage of the South. He is co-author, with Dr. Leonard Ray Teel, of Into the Newsroom:  An Introduction to Journalism and has conducted workshops in the Middle East on feature writing.