FLINT (AP) – A $1,330 bid was good enough to save a Santa Claus, sleigh and four reindeer that once brought holiday cheer atop City Hall in cash-strapped Flint.

Winning bidder Melodee Mabbitt said she and her husband pooled money from about a dozen people to buy the decorations. She said she wants to have Santa Claus put back on City Hall again this Christmas season, where it has been for years. “For me that was too sad a story for Flint to live with,” she told The Flint Journal.

The display was up for online auction Tuesday. The top price came after 99 bids that started at $5. Mabbitt and her husband had planned to stop when the bidding reached $150, but other offers of support boosted the available money.

She missed the final countdown for the auction’s end Tuesday night, and learned of the win when contacted by the newspaper. “We won Santa? Merry Christmas!” she said.

Flint’s finances are being run by a state-appointed emergency manager, and Flint has recently been selling off unneeded items. Other items up during the latest round of online sales included vehicles, tools and some other Christmas decorations.

“I think it’s a ridiculous slap in the face to sell Santa,” said Mabbitt, of Flint. “This is really a silly thing. It’s insulting. Are you really going to get that much for Santa Claus?”

Despite the Santa sale, Flint still plans to get into the holiday spirit this year. City spokesman Jason Lorenz said Christmas lights will be put up.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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