This final note: Like many other places, New York's Suffolk County faces tight times. Some 750 county employees are facing layoffs.

So Suffolk County executive Steve Levy decided last week that he couldn't justify paying an 83-year-old World War II vet for a 10th year of donning his Santa suit to greet kids on Long Island.

Enter the Democratic candidate running for Levy's soon-to-be vacated seat in tomorrow's election, Steve Ballone. He now says he'll pay Santa's $660 holiday salary out of his own pocket -- and he adds that he wishes his political opponents a very Merry Christmas.