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Community readying for Santa’s arrival

November 22, 2018

Santa Claus will have a new home away from home in Columbus when he arrives in town for the first time Saturday thanks to several area businesses.

Ted Hastreiter and Bill Preister, of Columbus’ Flat River Corp., are putting the finishing touches on the new Santa House that is tentatively scheduled to move to Frankfort Square for the holiday season at some point today. It will bring to an end a couple weeks of volunteer work in constructing the house.

“We’ve been kind of burning the midnight oil lately to get it finished,” Hastreiter said, with a laugh, on Monday from inside the shop at 2257 E. 29th Ave.

Hastreiter said Sandie Fischer, of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, first approached him and Flat River Corp. owner Jerry Eisenmenger about building the new holiday house back in February, but serious work didn’t commence until earlier this month. Hastreiter, the plant’s manager, and Preister, among others, have been putting in many nights of their own time into getting the house constructed.

“I call them my head elves,” Fischer joked of Flat River’s Hastreiter, Eisenmenger, Preister and Denny Sliva. “The Santa house was in need of being replaced or redone. So I approached them.”

Flat River is well known in the portable building and structural steel fabrication industries, so having its expertise, only made sense, she noted.

“I’ve always admired their little buildings they’ve built over there,” Fischer said.

But, as Hastreiter stressed, the community collaboration is what makes the house so special. Although Flat handled the house’s construction, several others have helped bring it all together. Mead Lumber donated all of the lumber and building materials, while Rob Beiermann, of Rob’s Electric, was responsible for all electrical components and installation. Parents of Nebraska Turtle Racing, a local group that puts on the Turtle Races every year during Columbus Days, aided in getting the house framed up and insulated, in addition to contributing cash to purchase items to keep Mr. Claus warm this season.

Fischer called the generosity of so many people heartwarming, noting it played beautifully into the chamber’s motto, “Something Good,” for the community.”

“It’s pretty cool. It means so much to have the community buy into the fact that the Santa house is very important to the community,” Fischer said. “To have that all in place for the community just shows how much they care about Santa and having a nice facility for the kids to visit Santa Claus in.”

The house, which is 12 feet by 14 feet, will be decorated by Fischer and others in the coming days to prepare for Santa’s 2018 debut. Mr. Claus is expected on Saturday afternoon in downtown Columbus’ Frankfort Square as part of Small Business Saturday and the Columbus Holiday Giveaway. A ribbon-cutting ceremony on the new Santa house is set for 1 p.m. Complementary horse-and-carriage rides will be available for those downtown that day, as well.

“It’s just a great kickoff for the community to start celebrating Christmas,” Fischer said. “ … We have the Small Business Saturday promotion; we’re doing the Columbus Bucks promotion. So to kickoff that, along with Santa arriving, It’s just a wonderful opportunity to (start) the holiday season.”

Hastreiter said knowing so many area children will enjoy and benefit from the new Santa house makes all of the hard work put into it worth it.

“It will be neat,” he said, with a smile.

Matt Lindberg is the managing editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at matt.lindberg@lee.net.

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