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Santa’s house furnished by previous Leadership Columbus class

November 25, 2018

There’s really no use in having a home that looks lovely from the exterior if the inside is bare, bland and boring.

Fortunately for Santa Claus, who is taking up residence at his newly built home in Frankfort Square this afternoon, his dwelling will be completely furnished and homey thanks to the work of the 2017-2018 Leadership Columbus Class.

The program, which has been in the community for years, is designed to give selected Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce members the chance to learn about the city’s opportunities, problems and available resources during numerous training sessions spanning over an eight-month course.

The new Santa house project, completed by Columbus’ Flat River Corp., got underway after Sandie Fischer of the Chamber approached its staff in February inquiring about the company’s availability to build a new shelter.

Ted Hastreiter and Bill Preister of Flat River were two of the volunteers that spent about two weeks building the structure. Other contributors included Rob’s Electric handling all electric components and Parents of Nebraska Turtle Racing, which helped with framing, insulation and a cash donation, as previously reported by The Telegram.

Once built, the interior needed work. Fortunately, Leadership Columbus members were waiting. Originally, a plan was in place to refurbish the old Santa house, Leadership Columbus graduate Amanda Henry said while taking a break from decorating Wednesday afternoon.

“Sandie Fischer mentioned that the old house needed renovating, so first we were looking for somebody to paint it, and then we were thinking about getting new carpets and doing other renovations,” Henry said. “And then Sandie told us we were getting a new one and that the outside would be all ready to go, but that we would need to furnish the inside. And we thought that it would be a great project.”

A new rocking chair, tree, fireplace and assortment of Christmas decorations now light up the inside of Santa’s House. One thing that remains constant from the old structure is Santa’s chair.

“That’s something he really wanted,” Henry said, with a laugh.

Each graduating class of Leadership Columbus completes some sort of community improvement project during the time after graduation. The class from 2015-2016 installed wireless speakers at Frankfort Square that have served to boost the overall experience and ambiance of downtown travelers.

“It’s something that gives them ownership,” Fischer said of the service work. “From them going through the program, this way they can say, “Hey, I was involved in this project.’ Which is great, because what we are trying to do is build new leaders for our community. And what a way to do it by having them get involved in the community and having ownership over something.”

Good Old St. Nick is scheduled to officially arrive at Frankfort Square today 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 in attendance, as well.

Henry said that her 6-year-old daughter, Elyssa, always has a blast visiting with Santa and seeing his house. She’s glad that people will have the opportunity to get into the holiday spirit in proper fashion by paying Kris Kringle a visit.

“When I came down here for the Christmas Stroll there were already people wondering where the Santa house was,” Henry said. “And there were also rumors going around that there might not even be a Santa house this year. So people were at first a little sad and upset because this is such a trademark and tradition in Columbus.”

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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