Santa’s Village holds ribbon cutting

November 18, 2018

GERING — Christmas songs filled the air while the snow came floating down when the Gering Merchants Association held the ribbon cutting for Santa’s Village on Nov. 17.

RaNae Garton, chairman of the Gering Merchants Association, said the city has hosted the event every winter since 2001, when the original Santa Claus house was built. The association has added new buildings since then, rotating and renovating them as time and the weather wear them down. The Gering Police Department built a police station and the Kiwanis donated a school house, among others.

Most of the buildings are open for children to go in and out of, and usually have small activities for them to enjoy. The grand opening will be on Nov. 23, where Santa will make a special entrance.

“We have Santa coming to us in a very special way,” Garton said. “He’s either going to come by air, rail or trail.”

Kids are also invited to write letters to Santa and deposit them at a special mailbox.

The village will also once again host live reindeer this year on Dec. 1.

“These are the ones you can touch,” Garton said. “We’ve gotten them before where they just pen them up, but these come out of the Valentine area and you can actually touch these.”

Tom Cozad, who built the original Santa house in 2001, also built this year’s new building: the Bank of the North Pole, a large piggy bank sponsored by First State Bank. Cozad said it took him about a month to construct the building out of plywood and vinyl. Inside is a child-sized counter, with a calculator and a register full of play money.

“I’ve got a 5-year-old grandson,” he said, “so I kind of know how he thinks.”

Left unfinished for opening night is a small slot to insert coins into.

“We’ll have a sign there that says ‘feed the pig,’” Cozad said. “When they put money into it, it’ll set off a speaker that says ‘Oink, oink, feed the pig.’”

Cozad plans to have it finished by next weekend.

Santa’s Village is open on Saturdays from Nov. 24 to Dec. 22, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and on two Fridays, Nov. 23 and Dec. 21, from 6-8 p.m.

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