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Water tower Santa a Shabbona tradition

December 24, 2018

SHABBONA – As you drive west into Shabbona on Route 30 over the bridge at night, a glowing figure can be spotted high on the horizon: A lit Santa Claus figurine overlooking downtown Shabbona sits atop the water tower.

The water tower Santa has been a Shabbona tradition since the early 1970s. A new Santa was installed

Dec. 4 on top of the 120-foot-tall water tower.

The blown-plastic Santa installed on the water tower this year is the third one. Shabbona Village President Don Goncher found it this fall from its previous owner in Homer Glen.

“We found him online, he was in good condition, and we could easily fix a base to it,” Goncher said. “We looked around for a Santa for awhile, and this one will work perfectly.”

The first Santa was placed on the tower in the early 1970s and was used until 2012. Then, the Shabbona Fire Department donated a new Santa, which was used until last year.

“The first Santa matched the ornaments downtown,” said Bud Forrer, Shabbona’s supervisor of public works. “We had matching pine trees and snowmen decorations.”

Forrer has been installing the Santa on top of the water tower for about 25 years. Public Works Assistant Trevor Davis has been helping him for the past eight years.

The Santa figurine will be illuminated daily from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. through Jan. 1. The figurine will be removed from the tower when the weather is warmer.

“People always ask when we’re going to be putting Santa up,” Forrer said. “The community looks forward to it. A lot of people can see him from their house. Just like the song, ‘He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.’ ”

Forrer, Goncher and Davis said they can’t think of any other local towns that put a Santa on top of their water tower, which makes Shabbona unique.

“Every town does something unique, from lights to decorations,” Goncher said. “We have a Santa on top of our water tower. It’s a Shabbona Christmas tradition.”

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